The next two weeks will be peak fall color viewing in most of western Iowa. The Glacial Trail and Western Skies Scenic Byways offer travelers, both local and out-of-state, wonderful opportunities to visit rural Iowa. While you can certainly travel the entirety of each byway in one day, below we have selected two specific routes to optimize your fall scenic drive. Each itinerary suggest stops along the way, from scenic viewpoints to state parks. Take our recommendations, but also venture off the beaten path to see truly remarkable and beautiful slices of rural western Iowa.
The bridge over the river in Linn Grove is not yet officially open, so continue east on County Road C13 towards Sioux Rapids. Turn north on US-71 and go through the town of Sioux Rapids. After lunch at the Wagon Wheel Bar and Grill, continue north on US-71. After crossing the Little Sioux once again, turn west onto N River Rd. If you enjoy wine, stop at InnSpiration Wine and Vines just north of Linn Grove. Continue west on N River Rd/CR-51, cross CR-M36, and after passing the Lois Tiffany Prairie, turn north onto CR-14. When you reach IA-10, make a stop at Bertram Reservation for a nice hike to walk off your lunch. Then continue west on IA-10 to Peterson to see the Fort Peterson Blockhouse and Kirchner Park.
The Iowa DNR estimates that peak fall color viewing in west central Iowa will be from October 8th to the 14th. As of September 25th, some shrubs and trees are just starting to turn on the drier slopes. Lots of fall prairie flowers in bloom.
The next stop is Springbrook State Park. You can take IA-141 to Bayard and then IA-25 south to the state park. If you are feeling more adventurous, take the country roads but be mindful of farmers harvesting their fields. Springbrook State Park is a quiet retreat in Guthrie County, encompassing 930 acres of rolling hills and mature timber, perfect for fall viewing.
Continue on to Panora to rejoin the Western Skies Scenic Byway. Head south on CR-P28 and stop at Nations Bridge Park. Download the self-guided nature trail brochure, which will help you identify the trees and their beautiful changing leaves.
After your stroll, head to Stuart to drive White Pole Road Scenic Byway, a 26-mile scenic and historic byway that runs parallel to Interstate 80 from mile markers 76 and 100 and connects the communities of Adair, Casey, Menlo, Stuart and Dexter, Iowa.
After reaching Adair, continue west on CR-F65 to visit one of the most unique intersections in the state of Iowa. The Tree in the Road is a cottonwood that has become a landmark in Audubon County. The story is when the county lines were being established the surveyor placed a green cottonwood stick into the ground at the exact point where the lines crossed and grew into the present tree.Some shrubs and trees are just starting to turn on the drier slopes. Lots of fall prairie flowers in bloom.