Western Skies Scenic Byway Shelby County
Image: Prairie Rose State Park, rural Harlan. Photo by Lance Brisbois
German Colonies & Catholic Churches
Strong ethnic influences on present-day customs and traditions of the people in the Scenic Byway Corridor can be traced to large immigrant settlements in Western Iowa. Present-day communities located in the heart of these settlements include the five German Colonies of Defiance, Earling, Panama, Portsmouth and Westphalia. These communities make up the German Villages Tour, where the lasting mark of their German Catholic heritage may be best seen in the outer beauty and interior craftsmanship of the historic churches.
Harlan Square Historic District
Enjoy outdoor daily music and nightly rooftop light shows while shopping, dining, or seeing a movie in downtown Harlan. The courthouse square is a registered historic district with unique architecture and history. Download a Historic Downtown Harlan Walking Tour booklet.
Nishna Bend Recreation Area
This 80-acre park features 2 camping cabins, 18 electrical campsites with modern shower building, 5 sandpit fishing ponds, wetlands, prairies, river access, hiking trails, hunting, and a nature center.
Prairie Rose State Park
Prairie Rose State Park located southeast of Harlan is one of the most attractive outdoor recreation areas in western Iowa. The 422-acre park lies in a region of scenic hills, six miles east and three miles south of Harlan. The lake is popular for fishing, paddling, and boating. The park also features a beach, two campgrounds with electrical and full hookups, two camping cabins, and 7 miles of trails.
Elk Horn and Kimballton (located 3 miles away in Audubon County) form the largest rural Danish settlement in the country.. These two small communities, collectively known as the “Danish Villages”, proudly celebrate their heritage. Elk Horn features an authentic Danish windmill & museum, the Museum of Danish America, and several other cultural sites.