*There’s plenty of ways to see Iowa while you’re randomly road tripping. It may seem obvious to say that our byways are some of the best ways to view the Hawkeye State. However, there’s a way to hop on these roads in an amazingly convenient way when you’re in Western Iowa. Our trip was sponsored by the Harrison County Development Corporation. The views expressed in this blog post are of our own. Now, let’s Gallivant!
Harrison County, Iowa (Our 83rd County)
If you were to meet me on the corner of the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway, Western Skies Scenic Byway, and Loess Hills National Scenic Byway then it might just be near the town of Missouri Valley, Iowa. After this scenic rendezvous we can drive a short way and travel on the Lewis and Clark National Trail near the river. In other words…Welcome to Harrison County! By the way…This is our first Gallivant in this amazing county! There’s plenty of time for the at summer road trip that’s ithchin’ at’ya……..
It’s like being served up several courses in one road trip when you arrive to Harrison County. Western Skies Scenic Byway covers a wide swath of Western Iowa that goes from Guthrie County all the way to the town of Missouri Valley in Harrison County. That’s one heck of a way to see the rural rolling hills of Western Iowa turn into the geographical majesty that is the Loess Hills. This byway provides rollercoaster hills to some of the Midwest’s most beautiful and magnificent views. It’s time to dive into another scenic endeavor that’s been a constant and very good friend to us on the T-Bone Trail. The Loess Hills are calling again…
I love Iowa for a lot of reasons. One of them is for the unexpected trails that we find during our travels. I knew that the Loess Hills National Scenic Byway would supply tons of ways to observe Western Iowa’s everchanging regions. Harrison County is ideal for this type of odyssey. What Murray Hill revealed to us was so needed and wonderful. This was the Loess Hills experience I had know idea I could accomplish until we arrived to Harrison County.
It’s only natural to start planning a trip to the gulf, west, or east coasts when you’re craving the hypnotic views the oceanside supplies. I love those moments too and all the other reasons we may travel to the coast. However, an ocean doesn’t always need to be filled with water. Your dock doesn’t always have to be a series of wooden planks or a bobbing jetty. The pier that I found was here at Murray Hill Overlook.
To literally sit on the edge of one of planet Earth’s rarest formations is incredibly inspiring and it’s right here in Iowa. From my perch in the Loess Hills I could see everything that is Iowa. A land that was once endless prairielands with some of them still surviving. It’s tall grass gently smacking me on my sides in the breeze and the sounds of seagulls replaced Gold Finches and Orioles. And then the sea opened up as my feet dangled over the ancient hill. The Missouri River valley and it’s endless farmland creates waves in the leaves of the crops as the winds sweep through them. Shadows form, especially when there are a few puffy clouds in the sky, and gives you the feel of the surf coming in and out. I know of many places in Iowa where you can see this phenomenon and Murray Hill is where I can say is the best place to witness this piece of Iowa splendor. Peaceful, lovely, and hard to leave when you know you must move on. I can still see myself there as I write this post. One of the most impactful moments of our travels through Western Iowa.
Roadside Attractions & History
The day was getting hotter when we showed up to the Harrison County Historical Museum and Iowa Welcome Center. We took the time to make a pitstop and take a leisurely stroll around the walking path of this welcome center and received more of a road tripping education. Welcome to the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway!
The Lincoln Highway runs the entire length of Harrison County. Wait….The Lincoln Highway runs the entire length of Iowa and into Harrison County…..Hold on! The Lincoln Highway runs the entire length of the country! That means Harrison County gets streams of dedicated travelers from east to west all year long that adore this American treasure to roadways. Folks plan entire road trips to just be on this stretch of history that goes from New York to San Francisco and Iowa is home to several miles of it. One of the most scenic ways to love this heritage byway is right here in Harrison County when it meets the Loess Hills.
The stroll through this facility’ outdoorsy attraction leads you into historic buildings that illustrate the pioneer days of the area and beyond. This is one of our biggest pieces of advice on The Iowa Gallivant. When it starts to get hot outside and you need a break……Then head to the local museum!
We say this a lot, but when we do we mean it. This was just a taste of everything you can view and browse through at this must-see facility on the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway. It was a great way to spend over an hour of walking on the trails outside, discovering another overlook, shopping, and roaming the museum. I appreciate every single person that keeps these places looking good everyday for the visitors of this state. You know what else we appreciate?
JC’s Dairy Den was like a dairy filled oasis screaming for us in Missouri Valley. Summertime was going into overtime at this local ice cream icon and the employees still had time to give us some ideas on where to travel in the area. All they had to do was hand us the ice cream and go walk away, but they went the extra mile with a cherry on top. The natural hospitality of Harrison County at its sweetest! Time to checkoff one of the most obscure items on my very long bucket list. Let’s just say I was “pumped” to see it….
Woodbine’s public art can pull folks in who love to see these works. It did for me and I became very fond of this town. I loved the trains that still zipped by the Main Street businesses. The brick roads that intersect each other and the beautiful architecture over its sidewalks. The Loess Hill just a short drive away and all the restaurants, bars, and shops operating in a beautiful old railroad town. You know you’re in a special place when you envision yourself living in the town you’re quickly falling for. Woodbine is on the list of cities that I wasn’t easily able to pry myself away from and I’m very genuine when I say that. The Iowa Gallivant-HQ has a nice ring to it with a Woodbine address. Now I’m hungry!
Let’s Eat Steak!
Say it with me: Small-towns in Iowa have great food! Sometimes these towns are so small they’re not even incorporated. One of Western Iowa’s most popular restaurants and live music venues is in tiny Beebeetown and they made it to the T-Bone Trail!
One of the sayings on the The Iowa Gallivant is, “the smaller town-the bigger the market.” Some of our most viewed blog posts have come from some of the smallest communities in Iowa. Boy, did we hit the jackpot in Harrison County! The Twisted Tail Steakhouse & Saloon is very well known for it’s food and the entertainment it brings in. And it’s in a town just bigger than a BB!
When I heard that Beebeetown was going to be on the T-Bone Trail I knew it had to be only one place. I’d never been to The Twisted Tail Steakhouse & Saloon, but I certainly heard of it long before we traveled to Harrison County for the first time. The Twisted Tail was a past winner for Iowa’s Best Burger which means it was on our radar for a long time. I was very pleased to finally see this place for a lunchtime sirloin steak meal. It has the saloon ambiance nailed down and they have the cooking to go with it all. Top Sirloins are lean and so was this one to go with a delightful tender texture. This beefy flavored cut was charbroiled and cooked perfectly as you can see from the above picture. Great atmosphere paired with great food just off of a scenic byway. No wonder this place has quickly become hugely popular steakhouse in Western Iowa. Click here and watch our video from The Twisted Tail Steakhouse & Saloon!
The older I get the more I look forward to summer. Long summers that can produce plenty of memories around a lake, the woods, and maybe a cabin or two and we got all of that here in Harrison County. Find these places whenever you can and don’t stop until you’ve seen them all in Iowa. Then keep going when you think you’ve located all of them because you surely haven’t. You may want to start your search at Willow Lake Rec Area and think about seeing as many sunsets as possible from its many vantage points. This was without question our biggest highlight of our inaugural Gallivant to Harrison County.
We took our time driving through the hills and absorbed what we could on our way out. The day before we made our exit, we spent hours hiking, swimming, and driving through the byways of scenic Harrison County. We had some great food and took in a lot of local history. We spent more time outside on the trails and in the rec area than we did anywhere else to this point on our summertime path through Western Iowa and it was sorely needed. It was an easy family adventure that showed us how much of an area that you can explore without having to get your wallet out constantly and we know there’s plenty of families searching for those opportunities. There’s one thing I’ve noticed when it comes to the counties of the Loess Hills. The trail of Lewis & Clark works in modern times as a guide for unbelievable ways to spend your getaways whether or not you’re searching for the Corps of Discovery’s path. Harrison County helped to produce a prairie memory I don’t think I’ll get from any other place I can think of. I just might change my name to Murray Hill…..
Book your stay at Willow Lake Rec Area on the My County Parks website.
Like Harrison County, Iowa Welcome Center on Facebook.
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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!