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 | NORTH CENTRAL IOWA | SOUTH CENTRAL IOWA | SOUTHWEST IOWA
1. Lacey-Keosauqua State Park
The northwest section of the park contains 19 mounds built by an ancient group of Woodland Culture Indians to bury their dead. Traditionally, burial mounds are found on hilltops overlooking river valleys.
Nearly 80 campsites, 55 with electricity, are available in the campgrounds. The area also includes modern restrooms, a shower house and dump station. Six modern cabins may be reserved online.
The second oldest state park in Iowa is one of the largest and most picturesque with 1,653 acres of hills, bluffs and valleys winding along the Des Moines River. The Scenic Drive Festival, held the second weekend of October, features buckskinners and a 5k/10k run walk from the lodge. Nearby Keosauqua hosts additional events.
2. Oakland Mills Park
The CODE trail in the Top-of-Hill-Area combines smartphone technology and a nature trail experience. Hikers scan the QR codes located along the trail to learn about the flora, fauna and geographic features of the area.
Beginning disc golfers appreciate the wide fairways and forgiving roughs of the Riverview Disc Golf Course. The Woodland Disc Golf Course, considered the back nine to Riverview, provides more of a challenge with narrower fairways and rolling hills. Both courses are open year-round during regular park hours.
Just south of Sigourney, the North and South Skunk Rivers join together and meander nearly 100 miles through farmland and wooded areas to meet up with the Mississippi River. Fallen trees along the shoreline make an excellent habitat for channel catfish, freshwater drum, carp and flathead catfish.
3. Big Hollow Recreation Area
Volunteers with the Southeastern Iowa Astronomy Club open the Observatory Complex for free public viewing the first and third Fridays of the month from April to December. Three buildings each house a telescope, one of them believed to be the largest refractor in Iowa.
The 178-acre lake features excellent bluegill, crappie, bass and channel cat fishing either from the shore or by boat. Several smaller ponds within the park provide additional opportunities for anglers.
More than 10 miles of trails wander through forest, prairie and along the lake. Some of the trails are equestrian accessible. The park also serves as a trailhead on the north end of the multi-use Flint River Trail.