The Loess Hills, along the western border of Iowa, provide some of the most beautiful scenery, wildlife and overlooks in the country. As the leaves start to change, the hills come alive, not with music, but the alluring colors of fall. This list will take you to all of the best views of the fall colors in the Loess Hills.
1. Broken Kettle Grassland
Broken Kettle Grassland lets you view miles of brightly colored hills and valleys near Westfield. The grassland is the largest preserve in Iowa, the largest remaining prairie in Iowa and home to nearly 200 bison that roam the land and help play a role in the prairie conservation.
2. Stone State Park
Stone State Park in Woodbury County offers views of three states from the Dakota Point and Elk Point overlooks. The 1,069-acre state park is filled with prairie-topped ridges and densely forested valleys. If you don’t have time for hiking, see the leaves from the car on the Stone Park Loop, a three-mile paved route that twists and turns through the park.
3. Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center
Nestled deep in the trees just south of Stone State Park is Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center. The nature center has live reptile and fish displays, a butterfly garden and an exhibit of what life looks like underneath the prairie.
4. Preparation Canyon State Park
Preparation Canyon State Park near Moorhead allows hikers to get out and stretch their legs, or even backpack in to the hills to spend the night. The observation deck in the Loess Hills State Forest, just west of Preparation Canyon, provides some of the best views of the hills and is wheelchair accessible. The views in the canyon go on for miles as the tree line reaches high into the western Iowa sky.
5. Lewis & Clark State Park and Visitors Center
Explore the Hills just like Lewis and Clark in the Lewis and Clark State Park and Visitors Center in Onawa. Practice your skills in sailing, oaring and using a towline, then set sail on a keelboat, replicated from the ones Lewis & Clark used to sail up the Missouri River.
6. Murray Hill Scenic Overlook
Just west of Little Sioux, Murray Hill Scenic Overlook is one of the best views in the Loess Hills, but hiking is required to get up to it. Interpretive panels help lead hikers to the lookout, and once you get there, the views are breathtaking. See miles and miles of hills and valleys and watch the prairie grass go from summer green to autumn gold.
7. Lewis & Clark Scenic Overlook
Stand at the top of the Lewis and Clark Scenic Overlook in Council Bluffs to see the Missouri River and beyond. Imagine what life in the Midwest must have looked like for Lewis and Clark compared to today’s industrial structures.
8. Hitchcock Nature Center
The Hitchcock Nature Center near Honey Creek sits on a 1,300-acre preserve. Get a bird's eye view of the Loess Hills from the 45-foot observation tower with views of colorful trees in every direction. See the native prairie and woodland on the 13 miles of hiking trails.
9. Waubonsie State Park
Waubonsie State Park in Hamburg shows off some of Iowa’s most beautiful fall colors. If your legs are tired from hiking, try horseback riding on these state park trails. Walk or ride up to one of the overlooks and see the true beauty that is the Loess Hills in the fall.