*Our third Loess Hills County this year and the scenery did not disappoint. The western border of Iowa is one of the most geographically unique in all the world and we were looking forward to being back on its green summertime trails. Our trip here was sponsored by Discover Monona County, Iowa and some of the meals, services, and products were complimentary. The views expressed in this blog post are of our own. Now, let’s Gallivant!
Onawa-2018 was our last Gallivant to this Loess Hills beauty. It was early June and we were there for a scouting RAGBRAI project that would be happening later in the summer as it does every July. Our last trip landed on the same weekend as the area’s annual Lewis & Clark festival as well. My oldest daughter and I loved our time there. We ate at Dan’s Pizza, had meatloaf at Fiesta grocery store, and explored the Missouri River. We learned that Onawa was the birthplace of the chocolatey ice cream treat known as the Eskimo Pie. And on that trip, like we’ve said after many other places, we saw so many other ways we could have enjoyed the area, but didn’t have the time. Then 2021 came around and we were already on an incredible expedition. It was our opportunity to trek through more of beautiful Monona!
Near the town of Moorhead is one of Iowa’s most spectacular views. You’ll be hot on the old Lew & Clark trail when you arrive to Preparation Canyon. The trails, surrounding forest, endless landscape…It’s Iowa beyond your imagination. It’s right here and it’s ready for us all to enjoy. And when I say that it’s a geographically unique terrain to Iowa, I mean that. You would have to travel to China to see anything like the Loess Hills outside of Western Iowa.
There are so many classic overlooks in this country and Preparation State Park should rank up there as one of the best. It sparks the Lewis & Clark imagination and you wonder who in the Corps of Discovery might have gazed upon Western Iowa at this vantage point back in the early 19th century. Generations of Native Americans looked to the skies here as well and saw a beautiful landscape long before the modern day road trippers like us. I can feel the importance of this place when I stand here. The importance of every acre in the Loess Hills.
Roadside Attractions & History
The Corps of Discovery camped right where you can camp near Onawa. There’s no shortage of historic landmarks when it come to Lewis & Clark in Monona County. That group of US government funded explorers where kind of a big deal and this area the Monona folks keep that spirt alive. From the campsites, trails, the Missouri River, and inside the visitors center here at Lewis & Clark State Park.
I like oddities when I travel. I’m always looking for a new place to camp as well. I can hit a lot of the checkmarks when it comes to points of interest on my quirky traveling destinations checklist at Huff-Warner Access Area. I can camp on the Missouri River, continue my own expedition on the Lewis & Clark National Trail, and observe huge barges carrying valuable cargo all day long. Hey! I like anything maritime related! Which is why Huff-Warner Access is officially on my future campsite list.
There’s times during our gallivants that we stumble upon something we had no idea existed within the area we’re in. It happens more than you’d think and on this Monona County gallivant we caught wind of some “corny” information. Have you ever watched the movie called Children of the Corn? Scared the corn nibblets out of you didn’t it? Well, much of it was filmed in the town of Whiting, Iowa including one of the most terrifying scenes. “The flagpole” is all you have to say to some folks who have seen the movie. Watch below…….
Let’s Eat Steak!
It was time for Ada J’s Steakhouse to shine on the inaugural T-Bone Trail in Western Iowa! They had an incredible meal awaiting our arrival and it was loaded in many ways. Loaded with flavor, delicious ingredients and seasonings, heft, and a lot of care into the preparation and cooking. The Ada J’s crew was ready for a big night on the trail! Click here and watch our video of the meal we loved here!
Ada J’s Steakhouse is a great detour to make when exploring the Loess Hills. The town of Ute is near the scenic byway and beautiful overlooks. The Ada J’s team was very passionate about their meals and it showed with every bite. They treated us with genuine kindness that we keep experiencing on the trail with every stop. This will be one of the best Ribeyes you’re going to find and don’t turn down those homemade hash browns. Plan your trip around Ada J’s and enjoy the Loess Hills after a delicious meal from this beefy Ute destination. The scenery looks so much better after enjoying what’s cookin’ at Ada J’s!
Turin is a small community that grew right up from the soil of the Loess Hills and just down the road from the cabin. The hilly formations is in constant view as you drive through Monona and it’s always fascinating once you reach them. This cabin is a fantastic facility and blends into the landscape beautifully.
This was the ideal place for our summer break. Escaping from the busy city and landing in Western Iowa’s Loess Hills. RT Reese Cabin is just close enough to shops, grocery store, restaurants, and ways to supply-up in Onawa, and far enough to give you that wilderness feel. We don’t mind roughing it, but we also enjoy a place like this cabin with AC and easy ways to relax in total comfort. You can even play corn hole over by the fire pit! Stay tuned because we’ll have more to say about RT Reese Homestead down the road on TIG!
What an incredible way to make a return trip to Monona County! Do you think we saw a lot of the Loess Hills? We just scratched the surface, my friends. The beauty of Iowa is out there and it’s showcased in spectacular ways out here in Monona County. We met another round of gracious and fun loving Western Iowa locals that always makes road trips supremely memorable. Lewis & Clark should have stayed longer and so should all of us!
Get information on your future stay at the RT Reese Homestead Cabin on the My County Parks website.
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See everything we’ve covered on The Iowa Gallivant in the West Central Region of Iowa!