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The Beautiful Lyon’s Share of NW-Iowa: Cabin to the Casino

*You can’t be any further from Des Moines and still be in the state of Iowa then Lyon County! A few miles from Minnesota and South Dakota and one of the most unique areas of Iowa’s rolling prairies. This two day excursion was sponsored by Lyon County Economic Development. The views expressed in this blog post are of my own. Now, let’s Gallivant!

Never underestimate the power of a Western Iowa sunset. Especially when it’s as far west as you can go in the state. Lake Pahoja-Inwood, IA

Lyon County, Iowa (Our 84th County)

Shop Local

I don’t care what your bucket list looks like just so you have one. I love anyone’s traveling goals especially the more obscure they are. One of my goals was to someday make it to every corner of Iowa and before this trip I only had two out of four in the books. Lee County (SE-Iowa) and Allamakee County (NE-Iowa) have seen many Gallivants, but not once have we strayed into the farthest reaches of NW-Iowa. Lyon County opened up to us and we made sure to get this region on our calendar and planned out. This trip would produce many goals met and all in one county. Let’s get a little taste of Haiti first and it’s right here in NW-Iowa!

Rosie’s Sit A Minute Boutique is one of the most fascinating stories you’ll hear from a local Iowa business.

We received a Haitian education from the moment we walked into Rosie’s Sit A Minute upon showing up in Rock Rapids. Not something you hear everyday while traveling Iowa. This is a family operated businesses at its purest definition and it helps to support many other families with every purchase you make here. The mother and daughter entrepreneurial team of Renae and Kayla came up with one of the most unique concepts you’ll see in any boutique here in Iowa or anywhere. There’s more to the word, “mission” when it comes to these businesswomen!

You’ll pick-up on the theme very quickly as you browse through the shelves at Rosie’s.
Tons of beautiful merchandise and all made by Haitians wanting to improve their struggling nation by simply being employed at a full time job. Steady employment is more of a blessing in these parts of the world than many may realize.

From one mission to the next. These folks that own and operate Rosie’s have a quite a story. From living, working, and falling in love on the island country of Haiti to keeping the country and its beautiful people in their hearts here in Lyon County. When you buy gifts, a cup of coffee, crafts, artwork, jewelry and more from Rosie’s, you are buying something that was made in Haiti and by Haitian workers. Sure, you can always make a donation to organizations and I encourage folks to give when you can. However, when you purchase from Rosie’s you’re helping with an investment into communities that are looking to stay employed and build their neighborhoods back up and excel in the 21st century economy. All these products are beautifully crafted by the people of Haiti and to hear the passion that Kayla has for this concept is truly inspiring. She herself has resided in Haiti and has seen the trials and the rewards the country is home to. These are the off the beaten path locales we look for in every one of our travels and we found a remarkable one here in Rock Rapids. Bringing revenue to NW-Iowa and continuing a life’s mission with one Haitian goody at a time. Are you on the hunt for another boutique to fall in love with? Then set your heading for Lyon County! Let’s get a snack now….

This dairy lovers delight is pumping out some tasty products near the town of Larchwood!

We’ve been to many dairies and we know all the delicious staples. Stensland Family Farms has all of those and some selections you don’t see at every single one of dairy or creamery. We had a blast while zooming through the retail side of the operations and you can click here and see much of what they have to offer from this amazing family dairy!

Just a few selections of what you can take home from Stensland Family Farms!

Pizza, ice cream, butter, milk, cheese curds, and so much more! We even got a tour of the facility and saw how these dairy cows produce the milk that goes into what everyone loves here. The crops surrounding the dairy are turned into the feed that’s fed to the Stensland cows and you can guess where this is going. That is farm to table in one of it’s finest forms and the family adventure continues like that year after year on this farm. I need a glass of wine…And cider…

The towering rise of Lyon County’s premier vineyard venue. Calico Skies-Inwood, Iowa!

We love a rural setting when it comes to just about anything and that goes triple for wineries. Calico Skies sits on a hill where Iowa’s prairie landscape relevels itself in a beautiful setting. Pizza, wine, cider, scenery, stunning tasting room, and wonderful hosts. Iowa has many vineyards and phenomenal wines and there was something special about experiencing one in the far northwest outskirts of the state. It was another reminder of how Iowa keeps producing ways for us to keep going in all direction whenever we travel. And it helps to have pizza getting placed in front of my face too! Click here and see what we had to drink and eat at Calico Skies!

The selections don’t seem to end when it comes to whatever your preferred libation might be. In adult beverage form and pizza form at Calico Skies.
Two freshly baked pizzas showing up to our table with refreshing beverages. All crafted and prepared right here onsite at Calico Skies!

Rolling prairies with the Big Sioux River valley in site atop of an Iowa vineyard. The beginnings of something very poetic. I’ll get to that, but let’s finish the cycle and get a local beer now.

Rock River Brewing Co. is Iowa’s most northwestern brewery and it makes for a relaxing and refreshing pit stop in Rock Rapids.

The brewery lovers love finding a brewery they’ve never been to. That was a beer’ful of a line I just typed! The Lyon County phenomenon is producing local treasures with every peak around the corner. Rock River Brewing Co is the small town beer discovery you’re looking for! Very refreshing and you can tell that the brewers put a lot of care into their small batches of brew they produce. We love going to flight school wherever we travel!

Let’s Eat Steak!

You see the picture! It’s time for another moment on The T-Bone Trail. Steak tips, hash browns, beef-vegetable soup, and huge containers of Ranch dressing!

Doon, Iowa has been a local haven for quality steaks for many years. Recently it’s been a Burns Grill world and we couldn’t have been more ready to tackle a beefy meal here on the T-Bone Trail!

Look at that 16oz ribeye! Seasoned perfectly and charbroiled just the way you like it.
One of the greatest Bloody Marys I’ve ever had. Nice and spicy and loaded with all those vitamins Mom wants you to have. I’m serious about that!

The night was getting busier by the moment at this small town icon. Known for their wonderful steaks and so much more deliciousness on the menu. My big Ribeye steak was perfectly seasoned and cooked right to medium-rare on the hot char-broiler. Went great with that Bloody Mary, too! Click here and watch our video from Burns Grill in Doon, Iowa!

Roadside Attractions & History

Just down the road from Grand Falls Casino is this tri-state marker. One kid in Iowa, one in Minnesota, and one in South Dakota!
The Lyon County Freedom Rock at Locker Park in the town of George.
Don you love public art? Then you’ll love Lyon County! The City of Murals that is Rock Rapids, Iowa!

The murals of Rock Rapids are everywhere! This Iowa town is one of the best places to start your own scavenger hunt for beautiful pieces of artwork. The murals of Rock Rapids depict a town’s history with memorable strolls down many streets. Get to Rock Rapids and go on your outdoor museum hunt with your whole family.

The Lyon County Historical Society Museum is walking distance from many of those local murals you’re looking for. Locate these museums wherever you go and support them when you can. We loved our time here and it’s always a great break from the hot sun in the summer. I’m not kidding when I say that you’ll find something that will draw you in every time you visit these museums.
Island Park is exactly what it sounds like. A park on an island and you cant’ find that in every community on the map.
Blood Run National Historic Landmark is one of the most spiritual areas you can explore in the area. This was once inhabited by an ancient Native America people known as the Oneota. This landscape is as unique as it is beautiful.
Like Blood Run, you’ll have South Dakota in view as you hike Gitchie Manitou State Preserve. This is also the absolute most northwest corner of Iowa. Gitchie has an ancient history as well as an infamous past from incidents that happen here a few decades ago. The area is still very important and I would love to see a peaceful renaissance at this historic preserve.

The Midwest skies are so mesmerizing and I want to see them all again from Blood Run and Gitchie. I was very grateful to be there at that moments and even more grateful for the feeling of wanting to return. Find these two natural wonders and hike them for as many acres as you’d like. I will return and explore them all over again…

Check-In

That’s one very happy family in Lyon County, Iowa!

Lake Pahoja Rec Area has a great row of cabins along with other ways to get out and go camping here in Lyon County. Not too far from Larchwood and Inwood, and always provides plenty of ways to stay active and relax.

Bunk beds! Our cabin was right on the walking trail that wraps all around the rec area. The lake and plenty of natural wonders were just steps away the whole time.
Full sized fridge and just enough room for you to make a meal and get comfortable here at the cabin.
The new Nature Center is a must see at Lake Pahoja! It’s impossible to turn away from the woodworking through the entire facility and there’s a lot of ways to learn about the area’s natural critters, vegetation, and history.
This was the ideal setting to catch up on some work. The front porch of our cabin at Lake Pahoja.

We can’t thank the folks at Lake Pahoja enough for supplying a very memorable and much needed stay at the cabin. The trails, prairies, Nature Center, and sunset over the lake were all beautiful and a great way to highlight the county. Don’t think for a moment that this is all we have to say about this rec area! Keep checking in with TIG to see more of what we loved about Lake Pahjoa!

Check-In Again

That’s right! Night 2 went from the cabin to the casino!

Larchwood’s Grand Falls Casino and Golf Resort had all the entertaining options we were ready for here in Lyon County! Sure, we love a quiet day at the cabin on a peaceful lake. We also love Black Jack, slot machines, betting on sporting events, video poker, and anything that can produce a jackpot during our adventures.

Hey, you in the bottom left corner! On a scale between one and ten how would you rate your stay at Grand Falls Casino? Get a tasty and quick meal at the Big Drop Cafe!

Obviously there’s plenty for the grown-ups to do at Grand Falls Casino and Golf Resort. It’s also very family friendly as well. Swimming pools, restaurants, and plenty to see and explore in the surrounding area. You saw everything from above!

That’s one happy camper that got a bed at Grand Falls Casino!
Gigi wondering where that next souvenir is going to come from. Might as well pick one out at the Grand Falls Gift Shop!
Spend sometime and overlook the picturesque golf course. Play some golf and overlook the picturesque swimming pool…That’s quite the scene at Grand Falls!
One of the best views of this exciting property here at Grand Falls Casino and Golf Resort. Plenty more of those sunny days in store for everyone here in Lyon County. Micah Freese helped get this weekend getaway coordinated for us and we can’t thank her enough. The entire team hit a grand slam while we were here!

That was an amazing spectrum of days spent in Lyon County. The rooms were just what we needed and absolutely relaxing and comfortable at Grand Falls. The staff did a great job from check-in, dealing cards, serving drinks, cooking food, and with being very friendly the entire time. The weekend was hopping at the casino with a steady stream of golfers during the day. You are linearly just steps from the state line which meant there was a lot of visitors taking advantage of this phenomenal resort. I loved my time here so much that I decide to go out on limb with my wife…again. Click here and see what inspired me here in Lyon County! And you’ll want to stay tuned to TIG for what else we have to show you at Grand Falls Casino and Golf Resort!

Bonus Beef

We love lockers and Lyon County is very lucky to have a local meat haven in the town of George. The George Locker was busy like every locker is right now. They still took the time to chat and have fun with us. The folks in this industry are some of the best around and I love supporting them.

The beef and other delicious meats don’t just magically appear at the local locker, store, restaurant, or at our homes. There’s a legion of farmers that put in countless hardworking hours everyday so we can have our favorite meals. We had the honor to visit two of Lyon County’s great beef producers, and one thing’s for sure is that I could talk with these folks all day long. But they got a job to do and I’m glad we can get them on TIG! Click here and see who we met at the Kooistra farm near Larchwood and then click here to see how the Fluit farm is doing near Inwood!

Rock Rapids has one of the cheesiest cheeseburgers you’re going to find. Just belly up to Union Jack’s Grill!
Fiesta Brava is another Rock Rapids way to get beefed up in Lyon County. On the left if your traditional lunch portion of beef fajitas with that familiar aroma that gets your attention every time. On the right is Carne Asada Colorado-style. Steak with a rich chili sauce that makes for a very flavorsome Mexican food finale to the afternoon.

This was the family adventure we needed after a long school year. Steve Simons of Lyon County Economic Development outdid himself when it came to hosting us during our time in his proud community. I was able to meet many goals here in Lyon County. I’ve now been to 3 out of 4 of Iowa’s corners. Checked off Blood Run from my bucket list. Tallied up another meat locker and roamed more of Iowa’s surviving prairies. Thank you to all of Lyon County for this artistic, tasty, historic, scenic, and entertaining Gallivant to far northwest Iowa. You locals are amazing and I can’t wait to see everyone of you again someday.

Be sure to like the T-Bone Trail-Western Iowa on Facebook!

Book your cabin or campsite at Lake Pahoja on the My County Parks website.

Make your reservations at Grand Falls Casino and Golf Resort on their website.

Like Lyon County Economic Development on Facebook.

Like Western Iowa Tourism Region on Facebook.

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 Northwest Region of Iowa!

The annual luncheon that United Methodist-Rock Rapids hosts was very much needed as well. That is the flavor of summer in the Midwest, my friends. Let’s do this all over again!

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