The Western Skies Scenic Byway, dedicated in 1998, is among the first state-designated scenic byways in Iowa. Western Skies offers travelers several easy opportunities to venture off the beaten path. The Byway is 142 miles long, traveling through Harrison, Shelby, Audubon and Guthrie Counties, including 14 rural towns. It is easily accessible to travelers from both Interstates 80 and 29.
The byway allows visitors to explore and take in a scenic journey along Iowa’s landscapes of rolling hills, working farmsteads, and tranquil small town life. Below are several unique places to stay for visitors exploring Western Skies.
Willow Lake Recreation Area cabins, Woodbine (Harrison County)
The Willow Lake Recreation Area near Woodbine has 6 beautiful rental cabins that sleep from 4-14 people. The cabins get fully booked on summer weekends, so move fast to reserve a cabin or visit during the week or shoulder season. A new nature center is under construction at Willow Lake, which is a popular fishing spot that also has more than six miles of hiking trails. Plan your visit to coincide with Woodbine’s Applefest on the last Saturday in September.
Mitzi's Place, Woodbine (Harrison County)
If the cabins at Willow Lake Recreation Area are booked, or if you simply want to experience the simple life in small-town western Iowa, book a stay at Mitzi’s Place. Just steps from downtown Woodbine, this cottage has been impeccably renovated while keeping its Victorian charm. The rocking chairs on the beautiful front porch are excellent choices to spend a summer or fall evening. Check the Airbnb listing for more information and availability.
Seeley Creek Cabin Getaway and Hunting Lodge, Guthrie Center (Guthrie County)
Nestled on 40 acres complete with a fully stocked fishing pond and walking trail, the Seeley Creek Cabin Getaway is perfect for a romantic weekend or a hunting trip with family and friends. Located just south of the Western Skies Scenic Byway, the cabin is near Seely Creek Timber and Sutcliff Woodland. Visit in fall and pick your own apples from the surrounding woods or enjoy a cozy weekend next to the fireplace with a good book while snow falls outside. Check Navey’s listing on Airbnb for more information and availability.
Schafer Century Barn, Adair (Guthrie County)
The Schafer Century Barn is an immaculately restored 1915 barn located on a seventh-generation family farm. Guests can rent the barn when it is not being used as a wedding venue. Its location is less than ten minutes from Highway 44, making it a perfect base to explore the Western Skies Scenic Byway as well as the White Pole Road Scenic Byway.
Hackberry Bend Primitive Woodland Tent Site, Stuart (Guthrie County)
Hang hammocks around the fire pit at Hackberry Bend, a private camping site just minutes from Interstate 80. You won’t have to hike your supplies in to this primitive woodland campsite, as parking is only fifty feet away from the leveled mulch tent pad. The tent pad can fit a four-person tent, while the surrounding trees can accommodate three to four hammocks. Pets are welcome (on leash)! Check the Airbnb listing for available dates.
The Rookery Cottage, Coon Rapids (Carroll County)
Like nearby Whiterock Conservancy, the Rookery Cottage is within a short drive of the Western Skies Scenic Byway. The rustic cottage hosts up the six guests. The proximity to the byway, Whiterock Conservancy, and the Middle Raccoon River Valley provides visitors with plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities. Check the Airbnb listing for more information, photos, and availability.
Taylor Hill Lodge, Audubon (Audubon County)
Taylor Hill Lodge welcomes guests to stay in an English barn built in the 1890s by Grandpa Taylor. Six guest rooms are available in the rolling hills just three miles north of Audubon. The lodge has been transformed into a modern bed and breakfast while maintaining the barn’s Midwestern charm. Local artist Clint Hansen designed the stained-glass windows. The lodge is ideally located for travelers from Omaha or Des Moines, as it sits halfway between the two cities. Check the website for more information and reservations.
Garst Historic Farmhouse and other properties, Coon Rapids (Carroll County)
Whiterock Conservancy is not on the Western Skies Scenic Byway, however, the short fifteen-minute drive makes it an ideal place to stay while you explore the byway’s attractions and communities. There are several places to stay at Whiterock, including the Garst Farmhouse, which hosted Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in 1959. Other options include a log cabin and several quaint cottages and farmhouses. Check the website for more information.
Rock N Ranch Events & Campground, Menlo (Guthrie County)
Travelers need to follow five miles of gravel roads to reach Rock N Ranch, a rustic ranch just south of Beaver Creek. The ranch is a retirement dream and has grown from a few tent sites to include cabins ranging from a barebones cabin for hunters to heated and air conditioned cabins. Choose from four cabins and several tent sites that are available on the Hipcamp listing.
Firefly Creek Ranch, Guthrie Center (Guthrie County)
A former county health facility, this property sat vacant until the current owners came up with a plan to turn it into a non-profit art, community, and retreat center. There are only dispersed RV and tent sites available at Firefly Creek Ranch, but pitching your tent on a farm is a unique experience. Farm animals and friendly folks will make your stay at Firefly Creek Ranch warm and welcoming. Check the listing on Hipcamp for more information.
Dog Creek Park grain bins, Sutherland (O’Brien County)
There are two grain bins at Dog Creek Park, aptly named Beans and Corn, where up to twelve guests can enjoy the park located directly on the Glacial Trail Scenic Byway. The grain bins are available to rent, with a two-night minimum, from May through December. Each grain bin has a spiral staircase that gives access to the deck on the second floor, offering breathtaking views of the lake and Little Sioux River Valley.
Uncle Tom's Cabin at River Road Conservation Area, Cherokee (Cherokee County)
Although not on the Glacial Trail Scenic Byway, this cabin south of Cherokee is a short drive away. The cabin is named after Tom Nelson, whose wife donated the cabin surrounding acreage to Cherokee County after he passed away, creating River Road Conservation Area. Hiking and cross-country skiing trails, fishing ponds, river access, and hunting make Uncle Tom’s Cabin a perfect getaway during any time of year—it’s also pet-friendly! Contact Cherokee County Conservation and the cabin’s website for information and reservations.
Winery Loft at Inspiration Vines & Wines, Linn Grove (Buena Vista County)
InnSpiration Vines & Wines started as a bed and breakfast in 2005 and expanded into a winery in 2011. The Winery Loft hosts up to four guests in the second-floor space above the wine tasting room. Floor-to-ceiling windows look out on splendid views of the pond and timber. Hiking trails connect to several vineyards in the area and the nearby Little Sioux River offers more outdoor recreation opportunities. Enjoy the fire pit and patio as you sample InnSpiration wines.
Generations Bed & Breakfast, Sutherland (O’Brien County)
Just minutes from Glacial Trail Scenic Byway, Generations Bed & Breakfast offers a slice of life in rural western Iowa. This cozy cottage has multiple bedrooms to choose and large deck to enjoy those famous Iowa sunsets. Make sure you check out Bogenrief Studios during your stay in Sutherland.
The Morning Glory B&B, Cherokee (Cherokee County)
Cherokee is the largest town near the Glacial Trail Scenic Byway and there are several lodging options in town. The Morning Glory B&B is a beautifully restored Victorian mansion near Main Street. After a busy day exploring Glacial Trail, relax in a rocking chair on the spacious front porch. Check the Airbnb listing for more picture and availability.
Library Loft Apartment - Left Wing & Right Wing, Cherokee (Cherokee County)
What would bookstore owners call the apartment above their shop? The Library Loft, of course! Stay in one (or both) of the wings, each beautifully renovated and designed. High ceilings, large windows, and original hardwood give the lofts plenty of character. After driving the Byway all day, the ability to walk to shops and restaurants will be much appreciated. Check the hosts’ Airbnb profile for more information on each loft.
Lovely Loft in Cherokee on Historic Main Street, Cherokee (Cherokee County)
Another loft on Main Street in Cherokee, this one just as lovely as the previous. If you need more space, the host has another Airbnb listing that can accommodate six guests. Check their profile for more information.
Buffalo Ridge Barn, Cherokee (Cherokee County)
Another option in Cherokee is the Buffalo Ridge Barn, located on the north edge of town. A former horse barn, it has been converted into a lovely guest house that is available to rent on Airbnb. Games, puzzles, and a small library make this an ideal option for families or groups that are exploring Glacial Trail together. Dude and Lori Ganger, the owners, have decorated the barn with horse memorabilia and antiques as a reminder of days gone by. Check their listing for availability.
If we've missed a unique lodging option on Western Skies Scenic Byway or Glacial Trail Scenic Byway that should be added to this list, please contact Seth Brooks at firstname.lastname@example.org.