Friday, May 18, 2012

You’ll be swept up in an Iowa adventure!

Channel your inner flying squirrel near Dubuque at historic Union Park. Sky Tours features seven ziplines that soar above treetops and ridges. The unique history and natural beauty of this century-old park combine to make for a fascinating tour as you hike from one zipline to the next. But you’ll forget all that when you strap in and step off the 45-foot tower into thin air! (Check out coverage of the course via Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Outdoors.)

Spelunkers rejoice! The famous caves of Maquoketa Caves State Park are open again. When you visit, you’ll learn about our friends the bats and how to protect them. Enjoy caves, limestone formations and rugged bluffs – visit the interpretive center to learn more about the caves. Come for a day trip or pitch a tent in wooded campground.

Iowa’s oldest state park, Backbone State Park near Strawberry Point, is named for the rugged bedrock formation that twists and turns through the area. Rock climbers enjoy steep bluffs; boaters enjoy the lazy Maquoketa River. Bring your banjo and jam at the Backbone Bluegrass Festival in late July.

Try your hand at whitewater rafting without traveling to the Rockies. It’s just a short trip to the Charles City WhiteWater at Riverfront Park, where the Cedar River flows through the middle of town and provides exciting recreation for paddlers and tubers of any experience level. Be sure to mark your calendars for the first annual Charles City Challenge: WhiteWater Weekend June 15-17, and see stand-up paddling make a splash!

One of Iowa’s longest trails, the Wabash Trace Nature Trail stretches more than 62 miles through southwest Iowa on a converted railroad bed. An annual trail pass will grant you unlimited access to this multi-use trail – see bikers, hikers, even horseback riders enjoying Iowa’s wide-open scenery and friendly little towns. Ask locally about the Taco Ride… we dare you.

Can you ride a mountain bike without a mountain? Of course! Hundreds of mountain bikers will gather June 22-24, 2012, at Scott County Park in eastern Iowa for the 2012 Midwest Mountain Bike Festival.

Look for more ideas to paddle, bike, run and swim across Iowa at

Kathy Bowermaster, Iowa Tourism Office

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