Iowa's Wildlife Watchable Guide

From prairie pothole wetlands to limestone cliffs along the mighty Mississippi River, through rolling pastoral lands to the prairie and bur oak of the Loess Hills, Iowa is a special place for wildlife. You can watch thousands of migrating snow geese, bald eagles by the hundreds, a dazzling variety of butterflies, and much more.

Iowa Wildlife Viewing GuideThe Iowa Wildlife Viewing Guide has all the information you'll need for a successful wildlife viewing trip--detailed descriptions of the state's best 77 viewing areas and the wildlife found there, maps and access information, viewing tips, and beautiful color photos of Iowa's watchable wildlife and scenic natural areas.

This guide was made possible by the National Watchable Wildlife Program, a unique partnership of state and federal resource agencies and private organizations dedicated to promoting wildlife-related recreational, educational, and conservation opportunities. Each viewing site was selected with the help of experts from many agencies and organizations.
Native Americans referred to Iowa as "the beautiful land." Although the state is now deceptively cloaked in seemingly uniform agricultural fields, and regularly broken by small towns or sprawling urban areas, Iowa is a diverse biological crossroads.

Many animals and plants meet the north-south and east-west limits of their range in Iowa. Hence the state is home to both eastern and western kingbirds; plains spadefoot toads in the west and spring peeper frogs in the east; pecan trees in the south and white pines in the north; and a host of other combinations. Historically, about 80 percent of Iowa's landscape was covered by a mosaic of tallgrass and wetland prairies. Trees were largely confined to the river valleys and associated uplands. With the exception of bottomland forests, many woodlands were open savannahs, kept free of dense understory by climatic conditions, browsing by elk and bison, which once roamed the state, and frequent fires caused naturally or set by native people. The prairie plants, with their dense, 6-foot root systems, created some of the most fertile soil in the world. Consequently, more than 90 percent of Iowa's landscape has been converted to farmlands vital to the country's food and energy production.

The 77 sites featured in this book will help you explore some of Iowa's remaining natural areas. Floating along the wooded bluffs and canyons of the Upper Iowa River, observing thousands of snowgeese in the Missouri River Valley, listening to the songbirds along a forest trail, or watching butterflies dancing among prairie flowers, you will find that Iowa has much to offer. As you view a bald eagle clutching a fish, pelicans gathered on a sandbar, or a river otter slipping through the water, remember that wildlife needs your support. Consult the selected reading list to further investigate the state's natural treasures. Take part, and do what you can do to ensure Iowa's wild future.

Iowa's Wildlife Watchable Guide may be purchased for $8.95 plus $2 shipping from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Wallace State office Building, 502 E 9th St., Des Moines IA 50319-0034.

  • Bulk copies are $6.95 (minimum order of 25 copies) plus shipping of $3.35 (25-49 books);
    $4.00 (50-99 books); and $5.00 (100 or more)
  • All proceeds from the book go to support Iowa's wildlife diversity efforts.