Iowa Scenic Drives: Loess Hills Scenic Byway

Highlights of the Loess Hills Scenic Byway

This map shows you the highlights of Loess Hills Scenic Byway.

When driving the Loess Hills Scenic Byway in Iowa, consider using the following itinerary. It has many stops at which you can enjoy the natural wonders unique to this region.

Broken Kettle Grasslands: The tour starts in the Broken Kettle Grasslands, just south of Akron. The preserve constitutes the largest remaining section of the vast prairie that once covered most of Iowa. It contains some flora and fauna not found in any other part of the Loess Hills to the south or the state of Iowa, including the prairie rattlesnake and the ten-petal blazing star.

Five Ridge Prairie Preserve: Five Ridge Prairie Preserve, located on the Ridge Road Loop, about five miles south of Broken Kettle Grasslands, is a combination of prairie and woodlands. This is one of the best sites of unbroken prairie remnants in Iowa. You'll notice the climate changes between open grasslands, which are warmed by the sun and dry prairie breezes, and the shadowy woods, which remain cooler and more humid. Expect to find more than a few rugged hiking trails at this site.

Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center: The Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center is on the Stone Park Loop just south of the Highway 12 entrance to Stone State Park. The center is devoted wholly to Iowa's Loess Hills. The center has live animal displays, hands-on exhibits, a butterfly garden, and a walk-through exhibit showing life under the prairie.

Stone State Park: Your final stop, Stone State Park, is located on Sioux City's interpretive northwest side. It has 1,069 acres of prairie-topped ridges and dense woodlands. Dakota Point and Elk Point provide scenic overlooks of Nebraska, South Dakota, and Iowa. The multiuse trails handle hikers, bicyclists, horseback riders, and snowmobilers, and campsites with showers are available. This park is a site on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.

Find more useful information related to the Loess Hills Scenic Byway:

  • Scenic Drives: Are you interested in scenic drives beyond Iowa? Here are more than 100 throughout the United States.
  • Iowa Scenic Drives: The Loess Hill Scenic Byway is one of many scenic drives in Iowa. Check out all the Iowa Scenic Drives.
  • Council Bluffs, Sioux City: Learn about these cities along the Loess Hill Scenic Byway.