2021 T-Bone Trail · Family Adventures · Historic US Route 20 · Northwest Iowa · Roadside Iowa

Cruise Calhoun County, Iowa All Day & Into the Rodeo’s Sunset

*We traveled hundreds of miles through NW-Iowa this summer with Calhoun County landing on the trail with a relaxing way to enjoy the Racoon River. More county blacktops, small-town attractions, and plenty more locals to meet on the T-Bone Trail! Our trip here was sponsored by Calhoun County Tourism. Some of the goods, meals, and services were complimentary. The views expressed in this blog post are of our own. Now, let’s Gallivant!

Sing it with me! We love the HWY 20 yellow submarine….yellow submarine, yellow submarine….

Calhoun County, Iowa

Most of Calhoun County was prepping for a busy weekend when their day on the inaugural T-Bone Trail-Western Iowa showed up. There was plenty to see, experience, visit, and enjoy while we were here and with a glorious way to unwind. This western region of Iowa always has plenty of ways to help anyone relax and soak in the surroundings. The hunters were out of town and we made sure to hold down the fort for them while we were here enjoying the day. Roadside-America to go with an all American rodeo and plenty more in NW-Iowa’s Calhoun County!

Lake City Western Days

Lake City’s motto is, “Everything but a lake.” That means we better find some interesting things to see while we’re here and we were able to make that happen. Let’s explore and see what this town loves to showcase without a lake anywhere to be seen!

Lake City’s town square is one of the most beautiful of its kind in Iowa. The historic fountain is the headliner and there’s been generations of locals and visitors that have taken a moment to get a picture like we did. My only regret is that we didn’t comeback at night to see it which means we’ll have to come back someday!

Lake City’s annual Western Days were in full swing and the town square was filled with folks that were eager to get this festival going. It’s another summer celebration we stumbled upon and we knew the locals were going to be hyped and keep streaming into Lake City all day and night.

Plenty of vendors all over the square that were selling a wide variety of materials in Lake City. If you’re in the market for a Day of the Dead inspired blanket then you found your place here at Western Days!
Dear, festivals of the world. Like Lake City, you do a great job of keeping the kids entertained with these bouncy houses. Please-oh-please make one for big kids like me and I’ll love you forever.
The Calhoun County Cattlemen had the giant grills hot and ready for A LOT of beef that needed to get in the hands of all these happy folks enjoying the Lake City town square.

Sizzling ribeye steak sandwiches and juicy burgers sending a beefy aroma up into the air of Lake City throughout the afternoon. Just a few minutes with these area beef producers and I wanted to grab the world by the apron strings and start flipping burgers and serving steaks with them. They work their butts off everyday and still take time to do community outreach like this in Lake City’s town square. And this isn’t the only event that they pull up to throughout the course of the year. Cattlemen associations from all over the state are known for the great meals they cook and the time they pour into important gatherings like Western Days. Keep up the great work and great grilling, Calhoun County Cattlemen!

Check-In

Jonathan Wetter of nearby Rainbow Raccoon Ranch helped get us into one of the most amazing cabins we’ve stayed at here in Iowa. Typically used by hunters, but we got the an invitation to use it for ourselves while gallivanting Calhoun County. This might be the most beautiful spot we’ve ever seen anywhere on the Raccoon River…..

This would be all I would need to see to get me to Lake City, Iowa.
Flowing peacefully past the cabin is the Raccoon with natural beauty and wildlife all around us.
The cabin is impressive with its two levels, multiple bedrooms, kitchen, living room, and all that deep woods decor that we loved.
No TV? No problem! We took a day off from electronics while at the cabin. Both handheld and the type we binge watch our shows on. Don’t worry, Netflix. We’ll get back to you after this relaxing Calhoun County Gallivant!

We can’t thank Jonathan enough for arranging this scenic way to enjoy Calhoun County with his neighbors. My kids loved their time here and a long peaceful night on the Raccoon was just what we needed. The cool rain during the afternoon came in very nicely and perfectly timed in the middle of a hot summer week we just had.

Back at the Ranch

The Wetter family found another way to treat us while we were staying in rural Calhoun County. They gave us a sample of Scotland! Rainbow Raccoon Ranch was just up the road from our cabin and so was their herd of Scottish Highland cattle!

This is a breed you don’t see everyday when driving throughout the endless acres of farmland in out state. Look out for those horns!
A quick grooming session in the pasture. These highlanders loved to be pampered.

These were some very interesting and entertaining cows at the Rainbow Raccoon Ranch. We love the unique knowledge that every farmer shares with us and we received another nugget of education from the Wetters here in Calhoun County. Watch the video below and see what we learned about these cattle in Lake City!

That’s the closest I’ve ever gotten to Scotland and I think I’m ready to cross the pond and see the rest. Wait until I tell all my descendants in the old country about Calhoun County!

Roadside America

Have you ever been driving and experienced a cosmic wonder so huge that you couldn’t even see it? You may think that’s impossible but it’s not. Manson, Iowa’s town motto is, “Making an impact.” There’s a reason for that because the City of Manson literally sits inside one of planet Earth’s largest impact craters and it’s so vast that you can’t see it from a vantage point on the ground. You would need to be way up in the atmosphere to get any handle on this giant hole in the ground. Watch the video below and see what I mean by that….

Do you love getting of the beaten path? Then Western Iowa is just where you need to go someday. The region is home to many miles of scenic byways and historic trails you can motor down. One of the best ways to see Calhoun County is to take Historic US Route 20. Or as many call it, “Old 20”!

One of my favorite roadside parks in all of Iowa. Directly off of Old 20 and near Rockwell City in Calhoun County.
This bridge was a apart of the original road into Rockwell City. Now a part of a very relaxing park on America’s longest highway.
I’m thinking a lawn chair and old school transistor radio the next time I take a break here with the cows in the background.
Watching the Calhoun universe flow by…

333 miles of Old 20 stretches from Dubuque to Sioux City here in Iowa. You can take this path from Boston to Newport, Oregon and see the country from America’s longest highway. If you do this you’ll show up to Calhoun County, and I highly recommend planning a break here at the Rockwell City’s Rainbow Marsh Arch Bridge. This is quintessential Iowa that hits so many soothing feelings for me whenever I stop here. Old 20’s familiar traffic of pickup trucks, farming equipment, and 18 wheelers flowing by supplies all the action I need. This was the same route we would take to my grandparents house in Sac County my whole life. Cattle roaming around behind you. A muddy creek rippling by, fields of crops for miles, and the Western Iowa skies that never end on the horizon. This is one of the greatest Iowa scenes I can think of and it’s here on Old 20 in Calhoun County.

Let’s Eat Steak

It’s another trip to a small town restaurant with a big fanbase that loves the crew as much as the food. Farnhamville, Iowa is home to Rudy’s and a local chef that is creating unbelievable flavors. Let’s see what they got cookin’ on the T-Bone Trail!

Farnhamville is a town of around 400 citizens with one incredibly popular restaurant that was getting busier by the minute when we were there. 230 Garfield AVE
The whole cast of characters were ready for a big night of gallivanting and that included many of the regulars!

Chef Kendall and the kitchen crew had their A-game going when we arrived to Rudy’s in Farnhamville. Kendall is a Le Cordon Bleu trained chef that brought his talents back to his hometown in Calhoun County. And let me tell you how grateful I am that he did. That goes double for the Rudy’s regulars and new customers that keep discovering this amazing restaurant.

The Ribeye is becoming the king of steaks during our travels. I know it’s called the T-Bone Trail, but we’ve had a lot of very memorable Ribeye suppers this summer. That includes this delicious bad boy right here!
Kendall and the Rudy’s team will make sure you can load up your plates with plenty of veggies if you’d like. Perfectly cooked and seasoned as well. You can also get some of Rudy’s loaded hash browns and have them topped with plenty of melted cheese. Want more cheese? Rudy’s has a basket of fried cheeseballs that’s got some major heft to it!

We met the Rudy’s family while we were here and I’m not just talking about the team that clocks in and keeps the restaurant humming along. Kendall has a great support system of family members, old friends, and locals that have known all of these folks for decades. This is one of the major reasons why this is such a special Western Iowa restaurant on top of all the great cooking. Kendall develops his own sauces and seasoning blends to keep the meals flavorful and entertaining. Something that will always get the area talking, and that chatter will go for miles and miles. Find sometime for a road trip and get to Farnhamville! Watch the video below and see how much this town loves this family and everything at Rudy’s!

That is one heck of a way to enjoy an evening in Calhoun County!

Rodeo Time

Back to Lake City before crashing in our bunks at the cabin. The headliner of Western Days is this exciting night at the rodeo grounds. Horses, bulls, cheering crowds, and a lot of mud is a great way to welcome the sunset while in Calhoun County!

This annual rodeo brings in the talented competitors and the crowds who want to see them dominate!
A cowboy waiting patiently in the mud. I am not the first to say that or take a picture like this. I loved every moment of this sunset scene at the rodeo.
A cowgirl and her best friend in Lake City.

The air was a little crisp with the summertime temps down, and the earlier rains made the arena a little more challenging. It was a muddy night and the fans were loving it! The skies were colorful as were many of the outfits on the athletes and spectators. I was the perfect ending to a day in Calhoun County where I met so many of the locals that were craving for this weekend to show up. It did happen and the buzz in the Calhoun County air had an energetic vibe the entire day. I was so glad these towns were able to host their annual events, on this weekend, and very happy to be enjoying the festivities with everyone. The Farnhamville family showed us more reasons why we should all take the path less traveled more often and visit these small-town eateries. Legendary meals, riverfront cabin, highway, town square, crater, locals, cattle, and a wonderfully sloppy rodeo to close it all out!

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See everything we’ve covered on The Iowa Gallivant in the Northwest Region of Iowa!

Let the heavens open up on Calhoun County and the entire Western Iowa T-Bone Trail….

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