It seems a good fit that Prairie Rivers of Iowa has embarked on the management of the Iowa Valley Scenic Byway under a new contract from the Iowa Department of Transportation. Especially since the 77-mile Byway intersects with the 460-mile Lincoln Highway National Heritage Byway that we’ve been managing for a number of years.
For a stretch of roadway from approximately Le Grand, IA to Belle Plaine, IA, the Iowa Valley Scenic Byway and the Lincoln Highway National Heritage Byway intersect, cross, and are often on the same route. The Lincoln Highway National Heritage Byway continues to traverse east to the Mississippi River and west the Missouri while the Iowa Valley Scenic Byway dips south through the river valley to the communities of Marengo, Homestead, and the Amana Colonies.
The Iowa Valley Byway takes you through rural agricultural land, the Iowa River wetlands and prairie, and showcases a diverse cultural palette of Native American, Czech, and German heritages. There are trails, museums, tournaments, and festivals to teach and engage the traveler on all of the qualities which contribute to the significance of the area as a Scenic Byway of Iowa.
It is anchored by two distinct cultures. At the western end of the byway is Iowa’s only Native American community, the Meskwaki Settlement. Visit the cultural center and museum, attend the annual powwow, or try your luck at the Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel anytime.
At the eastern end are the Seven Villages of the Amana Colonies. The Amana Colonies were created as a communal society in 1855 by Germans fleeing religious persecution. There you can find Iowa’s oldest winery, oldest microbrewery, a woolen mill, a furniture shop, a lot of great food, festivals, and a cluster of quality antique shops.
Our audio tour is a wonderful way to discover and connect with 40 special places along the Byway. It features well-known attractions, locations and unique curiosities, all of which tell an authentic, place-based story of the Iowa River Valley.