Thirteen Earth-Friendly Stops Along the Lincoln Highway National Heritage Byway

During the early 20th century visitors along the Lincoln Highway used travel as a new way to connect with nature while creating new adventures! Today travelers are still making connections with natural, scenic, and recreational opportunities whether it’s during a short day trip or a full drive along  460 miles across 13 counties along the Lincoln Highway National Heritage Byway in Iowa.

For a complete breakdown,  be sure to view and download our Activity and Recreation and Camping Guides!

Mississippi River Eco Tourism Center Aquarium
Recreation and Camping Guide

As you enjoy the outdoors this year, and as we recognize Earth Day later this month, it is a good time to review your outdoor ethic. Please be responsible, protect our natural world, and be considerate of other visitors and the landscape. Remember to always check local regulations and guidelines. Here are some universal outdoor ethics worth following: The 7-Principles.

There are so many grand views to see, hikes to take, fish to catch, bike trails to ride, and nature’s treasures to discover we can’t name them all! Below are thirteen earth-friendly stops along the Lincoln Highway National Heritage Byway you should not miss (one for each county along the Byway)!

MISSISSIPPI RIVER ECO TOURISM CENTER – Clinton County
3942 291st St, Camanche, IA

  • 8,000-Gallon River Fish Aquarium
  • Wildlife of the River Eco-System
  • Turtle Island Display
  • Giant Cottonwood
  • Iowa State Record Fish Display
  • Touch Tank
  • Riverbank Display
Mississippi River Eco Tourism Center Aquarium

Randy Justis/Boyd Fitzgerald Imaging Solutions Photo

Hound Dog Rock Shop – Cedar County
115 Lombard Street Clarence, IA

  • Collectables From Around the World
  • Minerals, Gems, and Fossils
  • No 2 Stones Alike
  • Efforts Made to Ethically Source
  • Custom Made Jewelry
  • All Ages Welcome
  • Rock On!
Hound Dog Rock Shop

Hound Dog Shop Photo

Mount Trashmore – Linn County
2250 A Street SW, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

  • Former Landfill Transitioned to Recreational Site
  • Hiking
  • Walking
  • Mountain Biking – Wear a Helmet!
  • Educational tours
  • Picnicking
  • Some Steep Grades
Mount Trashmore Trails

Solid Waste Agency – Cedar Rapids/Linn County Photo

Jumbo Well – Benton County
Commemorative Plaque, Corner of 8th and 8th, Belle Plaine, IA
Exhibit, Belle Plaine Area Museum Henry B. Tippie Annex

  • Known as the Eight Wonder of the World
  • Artesian Well That Ran Loose for Over a Year in 1886
  • Known to “Sing” Until Silenced by Engineers
  • Gushed 3 Million Gallons a Day
  • Took 130 Barrels of Cement to Cap
  • Now an Aquifer Less Than 200 Feet Below Belle Plaine
Jumbo Well Belle Plaine Iowa

Iowa Adventurer Photo

Otter Creek Marsh – Tama County
One Mile NW of Chelsea, IA on E66

  • 1,200-Acre Wetland
  • Viewing Platform
  • Migrating Waterfowl
  • Aquatic Wildlife
  • Hunting
  • Fishing
  • Kayaking, Canoeing, Small Boats Allowed
Viewing Platform Otter Creek Marsh

Cindy Hadish/Homegrown Iowan Photo

Marietta Sand Prairie Preserve – Marshall County

1744 Knapp Avenue, Albion, IA

  • Rare Sand Prairie
  • 56 Acres of Sand Prairie Remnant
  • 210 Acre Seep Wetland Addition
  • Wildlife and Flora Viewing
  • Rare Plant Species Unique to Sand Prairies
  • Includes Some Threatened or Endangered Ferns
  • Hunting
Marietta Sand Preserve Volunteers

Iowan Natural Heritage Foundation Photo

Reiman Gardens – Story County

Reiman Gardens
1407 University Blvd., Ames, IA

  • 17 Acre Site
  • Indoor and Outdoor Gardens
  • Christina Reiman Butterfly Wing
  • Lake Helen
  • CoHorts Dancing Chimes Plaza
  • Bald Cypress Allee
  • Hughes Conservatory
Reiman Gardens

Reiman Gardens Photo

Ledges State Park – Boone County

1515 P Ave, Madrid, IA

  • One of Iowa’s Most Historic and Scenic Nature Destinations
  • Sandstone Ledges Above Des Moines River
  • Pea’s Creek “Canyon”
  • Hiking
  • Camping
  • Streamwalking/Wading
  • Boating
PRI Kids Camp Ledges State Park

Prairie Rivers of Iowa Photo

Raccoon River Valley Trail – Greene County

507 E Lincoln Way, Jefferson, IA

  • Trailhead for 89-Mile Long Multi-Use Recreational Trail
  • Biking, Walking, Hiking, Snowmobiling, Cross Country Skiing
  • Woodland, Prairie, Wildflower and Agricultural Scenic Views
  • Camping, Restrooms, and Shower Facilities
  • 600 Foot Long Trestle Bridge
  • Parking
  • User Permit Required (18 Years and Older)
Raccoon River Valley Trail Trailhead in Jefferson

Raccoon River Valley Trail Association Photo

Swan Lake State Park – Carroll County

22676 Swan Lake Trail, Carroll, IA 

  • Camping
  • Biking, Walking, and Hiking
  • Bird Watching and Wildlife
  • Fishing
  • Boating, Canoeing & Kayaking
  • Swimming
  • Horseback Riding
American White Pelican Carroll County Iowa

Matt Wetrich Photo

Yellow Smoke State Park – Crawford County

2237 Yellow Smoke Rd, Denison, IA

  • 358 Acre Recreation Area
  • Biking, Walking, and Hiking
  • Bird Watching and Wildlife
  • Fishing
  • Boating with Concrete Ramp
  • Beach Swimming and Bathhouse
  • Camping
Yellow Smoke Park

Crawford County Conservation Photo

DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge – Harrison County

1434 316th Lane, Missouri Valley, IA

  • 8,365 Acre Refuge
  • DeSoto Lake (Oxbow Lake)
  • Migratory Bird Corridor
  • Tallgrass Prairie, Bottomland Forest, and Wetland Habitats
  • Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center
  • Steamboat Bertrand Archeological Exhibit
  • Rare Glimpse of What Pre-Settlement Iowa Looked Like
Heron at DeSoto Bend Wildlife Refuge

Troy Hugen Photo

Hitchcock Nature Center – Pottawattamie County

27792 Ski Hill Loop, Honey Creek, IA 

  • Rare Wind-Deposited Loess Hills
  • Walking, Hiking, Camping
  • Snowshoeing and Cross Country Skiing
  • Seasonal Migrating Raptors and Pollinators
  • Observation Tower
  • Archery Range
Badger Ridge in Loess Hills Harrison County Iowa

Pottawattamie County Conservation Photo

New Pollinator Conservation Specialist Jessica Butters Joins PRI Staff

New Pollinator Conservation Specialist Jessica Butters Joins PRI Staff

Prairie Rivers of Iowa’s new Pollinator Conservation Specialist Jessica Butters’s background includes extensive knowledge about Iowa’s ecosystems and native bee conservation. She’s a graduate of Kansas State University (KSU) with a Master’s of Science in Entomology and recently completed work as a research assistant organizing and analyzing a large dataset concerning native bee presence in soybean in fields.

“We are thrilled to have her join our staff and look forward to some significant contributions towards pollinator and native plant habitat creation, restoration and education throughout Iowa,” says Executive Director Penny Brown Huber.

Jessica has a history of collaboration that will serve her well in this new position. As a part of the team at Kansas State, she has co-authored publications on topics ranging from Providing for Pollinators: Conserving and Integrating Natural Habitats to Native Flowering Border Crops Attract High Pollinator Abundance and Diversity. At KSU she managed two projects that gave her and others a greater understanding of native plant and insect interactions, and landowner viewpoints towards conservation efforts and practices.

Connecting with the public is an area of expertise Jessica honed while serving as an insect zoo tour guide at KSU and as a private tutor where she was able to synthesize scientific information into something simple, fun, and informational to school children and diverse audiences. Central Iowa audiences will get their first taste of her expertise during the Ames Public Library’s Birds, Bees and Pollinators EcoChat on April 28.

Besides being a great presenter, Jessica’s scientific skills are impressive as well. She is just as comfortable while conducting research and analyzing data, creating maps using ArcGIS and R, identifying native pollinators and plants, talking about sustainable agriculture or creating the perfect bee house. They are skillsets that are critical when considering the challenges pollinators currently face in Iowa and beyond.

Please welcome Jessica to the Prairie Rivers team, and “bee” sure to reach out, say hello, and call upon her expertise when you need assistance with your next pollinator garden, native prairie restoration, or educational event.

During the application process, Jessica related, “I believe my research experience, passion for public relations, and solid bee and Iowa ecology background, blend perfectly together for this position.” We could not agree more!

Monarch in Native Prairie
Bumble Bee
Kids On the Byway Program
Prairie Rivers of Iowa Releases Story County Water Quality Monitoring Annual Report

Prairie Rivers of Iowa Releases Story County Water Quality Monitoring Annual Report

Prairie Rivers of Iowa has just released an annual report investigating water quality in streams and lakes around Story County. Prairie Rivers of Iowa worked with Story County Conservation, the City of Ames, and other partners in 2020 to initiate a locally-led water monitoring program including both volunteer and laboratory testing.

The report’s author Prairie Rivers of Iowa Water Quality Specialist Dan Haug states, “Our partners and volunteers have gone to a lot of trouble to test rivers and lakes across the county, so we take seriously the job of interpreting the data.”  He continues, “It’s only the second year of the program, but we’re starting to see patterns that can help us evaluate nutrient reduction efforts and improve our streams for recreation and fisheries.

Water Quality Monitoring in Story County Annual Report Cover

Volunteer Rick Dietz and Prairie Rivers of Iowa Board President Reed Riskedahl test phosphorous in a tributary of Ioway Creek.

Some of the key findings detailed in the report include the risks of waterborne illnesses, algae blooms in lakes and streams, the impacts to aquatic life and the effects of excess nutrients being sent downstream, eventually to the Gulf of Mexico.

“The water monitoring planning team is working hard to bring together all the resources we can to conduct monthly water testing, equip volunteers, educate elected officials and the public about the many water quality issues in our lakes, rivers and streams,” according to Haug.

In 2021, E. coli bacteria was usually low at swimming beaches and parts of the South Skunk River, but high in most creeks. The influence of nitrogen and phosphorus loads from Story County did not have as much influence on hypoxia contamination to Gulf of Mexico in 2021 due to a dry year, but the plan calls for continued monitoring to determine the effects during normal to wet periods helping to identify hot spots and evaluate whether conservation practices are working.

Water quality monitoring results in Story County did however reveal that during dry conditions in 2021, the highest levels of nitrogen and phosphorus were found below wastewater treatment plants. Wastewater effluent may be contributing to low dissolved oxygen levels in some streams harming aquatic invertebrates yet more monitoring is needed to establish patterns.

Other findings during the past year conclude that untreated stormwater from older neighborhoods has extremely high levels of sediment, phosphorus and bacteria.

Water monitoring was guided by a ten-year plan written by nine local partners and facilitated by Prairie Rivers of Iowa.

Water samples were collected monthly from 15 sites and weekly from three sites, with laboratory support provided by the City of Ames. Story County Conservation launched a volunteer monitoring program with 17 individuals and one business participating. Prairie of Iowa used special hardware to collect samples of runoff from rainstorms.

The entire Story County 10-year Water Quality Monitoring Plan, Annual Report, water quality updates, real-time data and educational articles can be found here.

Women’s Suffrage History Along the Lincoln Highway in Iowa

Women’s Suffrage History Along the Lincoln Highway in Iowa

As you travel along the Lincoln Highway National Heritage Byway you’ll find many cultural and historic points of interest — including a retracing of footsteps taken by many responsible for pioneering women’s suffrage in Iowa. This March, we commemorate Iowa History and Women’s History month, let’s take a look at a couple of related stories.

A historic milestone during the decades-long fight to win the right to vote for women in the United States took place in the Lincoln Highway community of Boone, Iowa over 100 years ago. At 11:45 a.m. on the morning of October 29, 1908, more than one hundred women gathered at the corner of 7th and Carroll, hoisted their banners, and began to march towards downtown in support of women’s suffrage.

Championing the ensuing parade was a car transporting the then National Women Suffrage Association President Dr. Anna Howard Shaw.

Women's Suffrage March in Boone, Iowa
Carrie Chapman Catt and Anna Howard Shaw in 1917

Carrie Chapman Catt and Anna Howard Shaw in 1917.

When the marchers reached the intersection of 8th and Story, the crowd paused to allow Shaw to speak. The Woman’s Standard newspaper reported that Shaw “…held the breathless attention of her hearers, wit, humor, pathos, sentiment and clear, hard logic from one to the other she passed, naturally, entirely without self-consciousness, with the greatest sincerity of manner and at time with much dramatic fire.”

Women's Suffrage Monument in Boone Iowa

At the site today you’ll find a monument in honor of that 1908 parade that was organized by Boone Equality Club President Rowena Edson Stevens and former Iowa Equal Suffrage President Rev. Eleanor Elizabeth Gordon. Be sure to stop at this location, stand in these women’s footsteps, imagine, be inspired, and immerse yourself in their bravery and sacrifice.

At the top of Oakland Avenue and Lafayette along the Byway corridor in Council Bluffs, you’ll find Fairview Cemetery, the resting place of Mormon pioneers, Mrs. Caroline Pace who rode the first locomotive to come to Council Bluffs, and Amelia Jenks Bloomer a social reformer, temperance activist, suffragist and one-time editor of The Lilly, the first newspaper by and for women, which became a model for women’s suffrage publications thereafter.

The Bloomer family settled in Council Bluffs in 1855 where Amelia continued her activism and was Iowa’s first resident to speak publicly for women’s suffrage. She started the Soldiers’ Aid Society of Council Bluffs to assist Union soldiers and served as president of the Iowa Suffrage Association from 1871-1873.

Amelia Jenks Bloomer

Though she became the namesake, the late Victorian era fashion of “Bloomers” inspired by Turkish pantaloons did not begin with Amelia, but in the Lilly, she advocated for their wearingSoon they became a symbol of the women’s rights movement, freedom, and feminist reform.

The next time you’re traveling the western edge of the Lincoln Highway in Iowa be sure to visit Council Buff’s Fairview Cemetery and pay respect to the American women’s movement pioneer Amelia Jenks Bloomer.