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7 Ways to Skip the Crowds and Take It Outside

7 Ways to Skip the Crowds and Take It Outside

Find time to take it outside this holiday season. Pick an activity based on weather conditions and your condition, and just get outside. Iowa’s state parks, recreation areas and forests are ready to supply the dose of nature we all need to decompress during this stressful time of year. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Ride a fat bike and 6 other ways to enjoy the holiday season outside | Iowa DNRTake a hike. You can walk for miles in Iowa’s state park and recreation areas. Limiting hikes to spring and summer months means missed opportunities to spot wildlife, enjoy the solitude of the “off season,” or introduce an out -of-state relative to a bit of Iowa beauty. If you are looking for a guided organized hike, mark your calendars for January 1. Twenty-five Iowa state parks will help people get a healthy start to the New Year when they join others parks around the country in hosting First Day Hikes. Visit for more information.

Float your boat. The extended warm weather this fall has kept Iowa waters open and available for late-season paddlers. Those willing to brave the colder temps and take the extra precautions necessary for safe cold-weather paddling will be rewarded with a totally different perspective on Iowa’s late fall and winter beauty. For safety tips and other information

Pedal a trail. Don’t hang up that bike just yet. It may take a little extra clothing, but cool-weather biking can be an invigorating way to explore Iowa parks. Before the snow flies and while these paved bike trails are clear, try Big Creek, George Wyth or Green Valley state parks. Their bike trails all connect to other networks in the area, giving road bikers the flexibility of adding extra distance to their ride. Looking to burn some fat on your fat-tire bike? Brushy Creek and Volga River recreation areas, and Backbone, Pikes Peak, Pilot Knob and Waubonsie state parks are all notable destinations for fat-tire bikers, and mountain bikers as well.  Read more about fat-tire biking at

Enjoy the view. Late fall and winter provides an openness unimpeded by foliage. Great scenic views can be found at state parks in all parts of Iowa. Some worth noting are Waubonsie in southern Iowa’s Loess Hills, Ledges along the Des Moines River in Boone County, Pikes Peak and Bellevue along the Mississippi in the northeast, and Stone along the Missouri.  Most views are easily accessible, requiring only a short hike.

Cache it in. Download a geocaching app right to your smart phone and combine technology with old-fashioned outdoor exploration. This family friendly treasure hunt will lead you to places you’ve likely never been . . . some in your own “backyard.” Most public areas have at least one cache and often times many more. Learn more about geocaching at

Go trout fishing and 6 other ways to enjoy the holiday season outside | Iowa DNRGrab those skinny skis. Hard to believe, but some Iowans look forward, all year, to that first significant snowfall, when they can step into those cross-country skis and head down the trail. Big Creek, George Wyth and Pilot Knob state parks, Mines of Spain and Volga River state recreation areas, and Yellow River State Forest each have two miles or more of groomed trails for cross-country skiing.

Cast a line.  Most state parks have a fishable lake or stream within their boundaries. Backbone is Iowa’s only state park with a trout stream. Stroll the beautiful Richmond Springs in the lower portion of the park and try your luck catching this tasty cold-water fish. For more information on trout fishing and stocking visit

For more information about state parks and recreation areas, visit

Take a photo of your adventures outside and share it with the hashtags #IowaStateParks, #OptOutside, #TakeItOutside and #TakeItOutsideIowa