Make it a weekend to remember by exploring not one, not two, but three parks! With less than 100 miles between parks, there’s plenty of time to hike, swim, fish, camp and stargaze.
More One Weekend, Three Park ideas:
DRIFTLESS AREA | EASTERN IOWA | LOESS HILLS | SOUTH CENTRAL IOWA | SOUTHEAST IOWA | SOUTHWEST IOWA
Dead Man’s Lake, hidden within the 700-acre park, is a four-acre floating sphagnum bog, the only one of its kind in Iowa. Three species of pond lilies grow here, one of which can be found nowhere else in the state. Most of the park has been dedicated a state preserve because the park's natural features are so significant.
Built by the Civilian Conservation Corp in the 1930s, the 35-foot-tall rock tower on “Pilot Knob” (the second highest point in Iowa at 1,450 feet) provides views of eight area towns and acres of farmland. Pioneers used Pilot Knob as a guide when traveling west, giving the park its name.
Nearly eight miles of trails provide recreational opportunities for hikers and equestrians. In the winter, ice skaters, snowmobilers, cross-country skiers and ice fishers make use of a warming house with heat and electricity.
Located atop a limestone bluff above the Winnebago River, the center includes mounted animals on display, several aquariums of reptiles, amphibians and fish, plus a backyard wildlife area with wildlife viewing opportunities and a bird-feeding station.
A series of loop trails for hikers, cross-country skiers, bikers and horseback riders, stretch approximately nine miles and provide plenty of opportunities to explore the area’s scenery and wildlife. A handicap-accessible trail allows physically challenged individuals an opportunity to enjoy a woodland hike.
Throughout the year, the center hosts multiple educational and recreational activities. Special events include an annual Fall Festival, wildflower walk, timber trot, Halloween hike and summer daycamps.
The park’s beautiful limestone dam, constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps, claims to be the most photographed dam in the Midwest. The causeway was originally built to store water for the raceway to the mill, which was located downstream from the current dam.
Fed by Spring Creek, the lake is a popular destination for anglers. Several fishing jetties and docks on the south shore of the lake, accessible to mobility impaired visitors, provide opportunities to catch bass, catfish and panfish.
A two-mile long trail that follows the lake’s shoreline provides a unique hiking experience. At the spillway, visitors can hike to the base of the dam and enjoy a cool mist from the water rolling down the limestone face. The trail is popular with hikers, bicyclists, cross-county skiers and runners.