As a rural agricultural region, our lives are inextricably tied to the land, water, air, and flora and fauna around us. Spending time outdoors is beneficial for physical and mental health. It also plays an important role in rural Iowa's economy. We are fortunate to live in a place with incredible natural beauty, from the rugged Loess Hills to rolling cornfields to sweeping river valleys.
Botanical artists use nature not only for inspiration, but for materials. Plants can be used to make natural dyes, and pottery can be fired using prescribed prairie burns. Plein Air Painters and local photographers showcase our beautiful landscapes in visually stunning ways. The Loess Hills Nature School offers a wide variety of classes on nature, including writing and other arts sessions.
Hunting, fishing, and foraging are also important parts of culture that take place outdoors. The Iowa Sportsman's Atlas contains a complete set of Iowa Department of Transportation County Maps. These maps show all Hard Surface, Gravel, Dirt Roads, Rail Roads, Rivers and Creeks. Marked in red on these maps are the locations and boundaries of all public lands federal, state and county. In the margins of the maps are descriptions of what you can do on these public lands; Deer Hunting, Pheasant Hunting, Turkey Hunting, Fishing, Camping, etc. This guide is available to purchase online.
County Conservation Boards
Most counties have public properties open for enjoying a wide variety of outdoor activities, and many also offer programs and events. Visit MyCountyParks to learn about different CCB's, or visit the individual pages below:
The Iowa DNR has several state parks in our region, including Waubonsie in the Loess Hills, Wilson Island along the Missouri River, and Prairie Rose, Cold Springs, Lake Anita, and Viking Lake, all of which have lakes and are located in the rolling hills of Southwest Iowa. As with county parks, many state parks offer programs and events for the public. Visit the DNR's website to learn more about our local state parks.