Named after one of the most unique landforms in North America, the Loess Hills National Scenic Byway spans 220 miles of paved roads with an additional 185 miles of optional excursion loops. With so much ground to cover, travelers will need places to stay in order to fully appreciate the natural and cultural heritage the Byway offers. There are numerous lodging options along the Byway; below are some of the most unique places to stay to make your trip on the Loess Hills National Scenic Byway an unforgettable experience. Start planning a trip for next year or escape cabin fever with a winter weekend getaway!
Five Ridge Prairie Camping Cabin, Westfield (Plymouth County)
Perched atop a ridge overlooking the Missouri River Valley, the camping cabin at Five Ridge Prairie State Preserve is available year-round, weather permitting. The one-room cabin sleeps four and can only be reached on foot, requiring guests to hike in with their supplies, including water. The cabin has a primitive bathroom, propane heat, and a solar power system for indoor lighting. Enjoy the cozy cabin in winter, come in early spring for blooming pasque flowers, or visit in fall as the prairie grasses turn rusty red. The sweeping views and solitude are worth the strenuous hike up the ridge. For more information or to make a reservation, visit the Five Ridge Prairie website or call Plymouth County Conservation at (712) 947-4270.
Chocolate Mansion and Linda Sue Manor, Sioux City (Woodbury County)
Two neighboring boutique hotels, Chocolate Mansion and Linda Sue Manor, offer travelers on the Loess Hills National Scenic Byway the opportunity to spend the night in beautiful Victorian-style mansions in the heart of Sioux City. Both are filled with antiques and furniture honoring their history. Sit on the porch on a balmy summer evening, stroll the garden, and take a walk in the historic neighborhood. For more information, refer to each hotel's website.
RT Reese Homestead Cabin, Turin (Monona County)
In order to ensure the land would be properly cared for and available to the public, the Reese family donated part of their homestead to Monona County. Guests of up to eight can stay at the ADA-accessible cabin on the homestead, which features restored prairie and wetlands and is surrounded by 713 acres of public land owned by Monona County Conservation and the Iowa DNR. Contact Monona County Conservation at (712) 433-2400 for more information or to reserve the cabin.
LoHi Bells: Loess Hills Basecamp Tent and Scout’s Point, Onawa (Monona County)
Airbnb hosts Kelly and Doug have set up two double-walled canvas tents on their property east of Onawa. Their property borders the Turin Wildlife Management Area, giving guests access to over 1,000 acres of wilderness to explore. The tents are not available during the winter; instead, book a stay during warmer months to hike the surrounding hills during the day, then gaze at the starry night sky after sitting around a toasty campfire. Check their Airbnb listings for more information and pictures.
Jordan Creek Aronia Berry Farm and Jordan Creek Farms, Soldier (Monona County)
Two Airbnb listings near Soldier, just ten minutes from the Loess Hills National Scenic Byway, offer visitors the chance to unplug and unwind along Jordan Creek. Both properties are on the family farm of Terry and Shirley Weldon. Their daughters Vicki, Cyndy, and Patti have all been involved in building houses on the property, two of which are open to guests. The artwork of their late son Jeffrey adorns the properties. Vicki has opened her house to guests, where she has grown Aronia berries for five years. Vicki’s house is typically booked, and if that is the case, Patti welcomes visitors to stay at another house on the farm. Both listings have earned glowing reviews from previous guests. There is no WiFi or TV, but the surrounding countryside and pristine night sky offer plenty of entertainment.
Loess Hills Hideaway Cabins & Campground, Moorhead (Monona County)
Nestled in the woods surrounding Savery Pond, the Loess Hills Hideaway Cabins & Campground offer an ideal escape to explore the nearby units of the Loess Hills State Forest as well as Preparation Canyon State Park. Seven cabins, which sleep between four and seven guests, and six RV/tent sites are available year-round for individuals, couples, hunting groups, retreats, reunions, and families (including your house-trained dogs!). WiFi is not available, so if you are looking to disconnect, this beautiful and quiet slice of western Iowa is the perfect destination. For more information, check the Loess Hills Hideaway website or call (402) 660-3267.
Grain Bin Getaway, Missouri Valley (Harrison County)
Grain bins are not an uncommon sight on the Loess Hill National Scenic Byway, but have you ever considered staying in one? Architect Brent Nie and his wife Christy have repurposed an existing grain bin into a unique getaway. The property sits at the foot of the Loess Hills with the broad floodplain of the Missouri river to the west. Sunsets are spectacular and the hosts recommend hiking up the ridge behind the bins for breath taking views. Google “Grain Bin Getaway Missouri Valley Iowa” or check their Airbnb listing for more information and photos.
Cheese Cave Apartment, Honey Creek (Pottawattamie County)
Cows aren’t the only ungulates that graze the Loess Hills, as you will learn first-hand after a stay at this Airbnb listing. Janna has converted part of this working farm into a “cheese cave” apartment to allow guests a pastoral experience less than a half hour from the Omaha/Council Bluffs metropolitan area. Help milk the sheep in the morning (depending on the season), hike the nearby trails in the afternoon, then enjoy a relaxing evening with a bottle of wine and fresh cheese. Contact Janna through her Airbnb listing for more information.
The Arrowhead Lodge, Council Bluffs (Pottawattamie County)
The "quirky and clean" Arrowhead Lodge offers guests a unique resting stop as they explore the Loess Hills National Scenic Byway. The lodge is located in a suburban neighborhood on the outskirts of Council Bluffs, but you'd never notice it with the forested surroundings and the two goats that call the backyard home. Dogs are welcome but need approval and an additional fee. Check the Hipcamp listing for availability.
Art Church, Malvern (Mills County)
Your dreams will be divine during a stay at the Art Church, a former place of worship turned into an art studio by a native artist. Zach Jones purchased the desanctified church in 2012 and turned the space into his working art studio. The former downstairs studio is now available on Airbnb, which has garnered rapturous reviews. Guests are welcome to visit the current studio on the main floor, where Zach has painted a mural on the former church’s ceiling. Check out Zach’s other listings on Airbnb in Malvern, including Studio 414 and Art House, which is scheduled to open in 2023.
Malvern Depot, Malvern (Mills County)
Whether you are driving the Loess Hills National Scenic Byway or riding the Wabash Trace Nature Trail, make a stop in Malvern to stay at this former railroad depot. The bunkhouse can host up to five people in the charming and vibrant town of Malvern. The depot’s location right on the trail is perfect for bike enthusiasts or travelers looking for small-town Iowa hospitality. Check the Depot's Airbnb listing for availability.
Former Sugar Clay Winery, Thurman (Fremont County)
The devastating floods of 2019 affected many communities and businesses along the Missouri River Valley. Due to decreased traffic as a result of closed interstate exits, the owners of Sugar Clay Winery unfortunately decided to shutter their business. The former winery and vineyard, however, is open to guests as an Airbnb property. The modern cabin has a spacious deck and wooden walkway underneath the forest canopy, making it the perfect secluded sanctuary as you explore the southwestern section of the Loess Hills National Scenic Byway. Check the Airbnb listing for availability.
Horse Creek Adventures, Sidney (Fremont County)
Disconnect for a weekend, or longer, at Horse Creek Adventures near Sidney. The 170-acre ranch offers RV sites and off-the-grid cabins; you can also pitch a tent anywhere on the ranch, "by the pond, on top of the hill, or in a valley." Check the ranch's listing on Hipcamp. If you want to bring your dogs, make sure you inquire first with Horse Creek Adventures to get the okay.
If we've missed a unique lodging option on the Loess Hills Scenic Byway that should be added to this list, please contact Seth Brooks at email@example.com.