Celebrate the Loess Hills during Loess Hills & Heritage Week, September 21-29, at a variety of events throughout western Iowa’s Loess Hills counties. During this week, individuals can escape from the hustle and bustle of work life and enjoy western Iowa’s Loess Hills. This week will showcase the unique geological, topographical, archeological, and other distinct aspects of the Loess hills, including their special plants, animals, and history.
Events span to several western counties in Iowa: Woodbury, Monona, Harrison, Pottawattamie, Mills, and Fremont. Some events during the week include the Southwest Iowa Art Tour, prairie seed harvest activities, Woodbine Applefest, Loess Hills Music Festival, and many more. A complete listing of events can be found at http://www.visitloesshills.org/LHHW.
The Loess Hills (pronounced “Luss”), meaning loose or crumbly, is one of Iowa’s important natural resources, ranging 640,000 Acres, across Western Iowa. According to the Nonprofit Scenic America, these hills have unique plant and animal species and native Iowa prairie, making the Loess Hills one of the 10 ten most scenic byways in the United States. Loess Hills & Heritage Week is coordinated by Golden Hills RC&D, with support from Bill Blackburn and many other local partners.
Last night (September 12), Jamie Smidt Fowler led a plant identification walk near Imogene. This program was part of our Fremont County Outdoor Adventures. funded by Fremont County Tourism. The walk focused on edible and medicinal uses of plants, as well as discussion of which plants are native or invasive. Below is a sampling of some of the plants we saw!
(Please note that not all of these plants are edible. Foraging should only be done when you can properly identify species and know how to adequately prepare them for consumption).
The second annual Loess Hills Parks & Peaks Bicycle Tour was held September 4-8 in western Iowa's scenic Loess Hills region. The ride began at Lewis & Clark State Park near Onawa. Riders were treated to a keelboat ride and program about Lewis & Clark's expedition on Wednesday evening and camped at the park.
Thursday morning, riders passed through Onawa on their way to the R.T. Reese Homestead cabin, where Monona County Conservation Board naturalist Andrea Porter led a program about Loess Hills flora & fauna. From there, the route went through Turin, Moorhead, and on to the Loess Hills State Forest Brent S. Olson Memorial Visitor Center in Pisgah. Several riders rode to Preparation Canyon State Park and the surrounding State Forest.
From Pisgah, riders were routed west to Murray Hill, through Little Sioux, River Sioux, and Mondamin, Missouri Valley, and Honey Creek, ending at Hitchcock Nature Center for the evening. Natural Resource Specialist Chad Graeve led a hike and discussed conservation and stewardship in the Loess Hills.
On Saturday, participants took backroads through Crescent and Council Bluffs, where they joined up with the Wabash Trace Nature Trail. The trail took riders through Mineola, Silver City, and Malvern. the final overnight stop.
Sunday, the final day, passed through Tabor and Thurman before ending at Waubonsie State Park.
The riders had great weather and got to experience many of the most scenic parks and roads in the Loess Hills region while learning what the Loess Hills are and why they matter. Golden Hills is expecting to host the ride for the third time in 2020, coinciding with the Iowa State Parks Centennial.
Golden Hills would like to thank all the riders and everyone who made the ride a success! Special shoutout to the following sponsors and supporters:
The Nature Conservancy; Iowa Department of Natural Resources; Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation; Monona County Conservation Board; Loess Hills Bed & Breakfast; Pottawattamie County Conservation Board; Iowa Bicycle Coalition; SRAM; Malvern Liberty Memorial Board; Dave's Old Home; Moreau's Backerei & Pizzeria; and more! This project was made possible in part by a funding award from the National Park Service and Outdoor Foundation.