*We had another round on the inaugural T-Bone Trail and this in Pottawattamie County which kept me very active all day long in one of Iowa’s biggest counties. Our Gallivant was hosted by the Council Bluffs CVB and some of the goods, meals, and services were complimentary. The views expressed are always of our own. Let’s Gallivant!
There’s never enough time when it comes to visiting this Western Iowa community. It’s Iowa’s second biggest of its 99 counties and quite possibly the most geographically unique. Pottawattamie is home to the historic neighborhoods and suburbia of metro Council Bluffs alongside all the entertainment it produces. The Loess Hills dominate much of the landscape like it does through most of Iowa’s western border with its breathtaking views that harken back to Lewis & Clark’s Corps of Discovery. Farmlands to woodlands. Hills to riverbanks. Overlooks to winding gravel roads. And the town of Carter Lake that sits west of the Missouri River that makes folks drive though a few miles of Nebraska in order to get there. This county is an absolute treasure for any road tripper’s fancy. Famous for obscure roadside attractions to hiking and biking trails, must-see views, tons of restaurants, scenic byways, and historic highways. We made it back to the area and naturally discovered more of this county once again. It’s another T-Bone Trail inspired Gallivant to beef up our time in Pottawattamie County!
The Bob Kerrey Bridge lets you cross the Iowa border without getting your feet wet in the Missouri River below. The site of this structure is a beautiful piece of architecture that connects the Omaha area with the Council Bluffs area. Enthusiasts of this great American river can spend the day photographing the many changes this patch of the Midwest and surrounding valley goes through everyday. Tourists and locals alike flock to Bob the bridge for a scenic workout or scenic overlook. You may be standing on a modern pedestrian bridge with two modern metro areas flanking it, but the watery pathway below is ancient. Jog, walk, or bike across and just plain enjoy the river while you’re there.
I don’t care how many times I mention the Lewis & Clark Trail. It’s an expedition that keeps getting more interesting to me the older I get. I’ve been on this historic trail many times without planning on it. I’ve stumbled, and sometimes quite literally, upon the Corps of Discovery’s trek throughout much of my adult life in Missouri, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Montana. In multiple trips to Council Bluffs, I have never stopped at the Lewis & Clark Monument until the recent trip back. Am I walking in the exact spot the Corps of Discovery was? Is this where one of those iconic poses took place that you see on all those road signs and artwork? Who knows! I do like the fact that it’s very much possible, and that’s why I’m okay with taking the path in the picture above. That’s me going into a dark trail all alone and those rocky stairs won’t stop me!
The county park option should never be overlooked, especially when they are so easy to get to- like Arrowhead Park. Not too far from the town of Neola and just a few miles from the I-80 exit is this wonderful Pottawattamie County treasure. All the locals we talked to raved about this park and upon arriving we could see why. Think timber, picturesque lake, and that rural atmosphere that welcomes you in for an afternoon of gallivanting its wonders.
You know what’s great about spending the afternoon getting inspired by one of Iowa’s premiere county parks? Walking up the hill and checking into one of its cabins! And I’m not talking about a small hole in the wall that has the bare minimum when it comes to making it through the night. Nope! Arrowhead Park features a full-on and fully loaded glamping experience any style of traveler would enjoy!
Just look at that cabin! Not only can you have a getaway in these amazing cabins, you could find yourself wanting to live in one! Rustic Ridge and it’s counterparts that flank it look out over the lake with a beautiful view of much of the park. Sleeps up to 10 people with 3 queens, 1 full, and 3 twin bunk beds.
Just down the road from Arrowhead Park is a convenience store with Neola just across the interstate. That means you can rough it or “rough” it and never be very far from small-town Iowa and all the frills the Council Bluffs area provides. You’ll want to keep up with TIG and see what else we have to show you from this wonderful county park! Click here and watch our video from Arrowhead!
Roadside Attractions & History
There’s plenty of options to see Pottawattamie in a scenic and historic way. The Loess Hills National Scenic Byway, Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway, Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail, and Historic US Route 6 all find their way into this county. And they all have their own uniqueness when it comes to their paths through Iowa. Take these routes when you can and stop often!
We’ve all taken plenty of road trips and driven past plenty of pastures with cows roaming around. We observe them and move on for the most part. However, every pasture, cow, and piece of acreage you see has someone taking care of them. Just off of Highway 6 is a wonderful family that tends to some very popular cattle. Sometimes a visit to the farm makes your whole road trip. This is Vorthmann Limousin and we’re not talking about stretch limos here!
Iowa’s farms all have a story, and the T-Bone Trail has been one of the most fulfilling projects we’ve ever done on The Iowa Gallivant. Drive down the lane, walk up to the house, meet the family, and proceed into one of the most welcoming atmospheres you’ll ever be in. There’s not much more that’s better than that, and the Vorthmann farm specializes in making a city kid like me feel right at home.
Deb Miller was our go-to while seeing the Vorthmann farm, but you can’t leave out the rest of the gang when you’re here. We started at what Deb calls the “beauty salon” where they prep some fabulous looking Limousins for show. They specialize in breeding and it gave me a whole new perspective when it comes to putting a face onto the beef industry. I couldn’t get past the views from every vantage point we were at while here. That smile you see on Deb’s face wasn’t just for the photos. It was just about permanent and it showed how much she loved her farm. It’s a grin that I could tell is familiar to everyone who knows her, and this Limousin business is a huge passion for Deb, her husband, and the whole family out here. Deb and George even met me on their anniversary weekend! How’s that for showing off the farm! Click here and watch a short video from the pastures at Vorthmann Limousin!
Let’s Eat Steak!
When it comes to one of the most well known family restaurants in the area it’s best to call in some back up in case you need help with huge portions. That meant getting in touch with Max and Dorthy! Two of my dear family members and longtime resident of Council Bluffs. They weren’t turning down an invite to Pizza King!
It was another packed house on the T-Bone Trail and the Council Bluffs faithful were flooding in to support this famous family operated restaurant. We even got to meet a couple of the family members that keep this popular establishment cranking out plate after memorable plate. They know how to bake a pizza pie, and they certainly know how to present a steak that’s cooked just the way I love it. T-Bones give everyone two courses in one steak and that’s the special thing about this cut. One half is the New York Strip with its long fat-cap that seems to melt goodness right into the meat. And on the other half is the lean Tenderloin . This gives you two spectrums of the steak world with extra flavor coming off the bone. Click here to watch our video from Pizza King!
This T-Bone Trail idea is shaping up to be just what we though it would be. Plenty of ways to stay active and dive into Western Iowa’s tasty restaurants in one trip. It’s also showing us that we need to take advantage of the great outdoors more often and Pottawattamie County excels in making that happen. I met up with old friends and family members I haven’t seen in way too long. There’s much more to this long road trip through a welcoming region then just bringing awareness to tourism, great food, farming, and site seeing. It’s already shown me the importance of reconnecting to areas and folks you didn’t realized how much you missed. Now I get to wonder when I’ll revisit more of the great people of Pottawattamie I met during this recent round. That’s a wonderful feeling to have back as we Gallivant in 2021.
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Get information about planning a stay at Arrowhead Park on the Pottawattamie County Conservation website.
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Like the Iowa Beef Council on Facebook and keep up with info, updates, events, and promotions!
See everything we’ve covered on The Iowa Gallivant in the West Central Region of Iowa!