2022 T-Bone Trail · Southwest Iowa

Road Trip in Ringgold County, Iowa: Giant Slices of Prime Rib & Good Times on the Square

*The SW-Iowa region opened up the second season of the T-Bone Trail with Mount Ayr and company ready to join in on this beef filled adventure! Our travels in Ringgold county were sponsored and funded by the Western Iowa Tourism Region. Some of the meals, lodging, and services were complimentary. The views expressed in this blog post are of our own. Now, let’s Gallivant!

It’s going to be a sweet road trip into Ringgold County! Slushy stop at Dari Sweet to get the Mount Ayr ball rolling!

Ringgold County, Iowa

The Southern Iowa road trip can yield countless beautiful scenes and provide some wonderfully memorable small towns. Especially when you’re traveling on HWY 2 and into Western Iowa. That brings us to Ringgold County where gallivanting would be the specialty all day long!

Shop-Up in Mount Ayr

The Mill Coffee Bar & General Store would be stop #1 for this Ringgold round on the trail. Being well caffeinated is must during my travels.
Hey, look! it’s the Landphairs! They were our kind and very excited hosts when I arrived to Mount Ayr. Let’s do this!
Not only can you get the coffee magic flowing, but there’s great selections all over The Mill for some entertaining shopping. From rich pieces of fudge to hilarious gifts you can’t wait to deal out to some of your favorite friends and family members with a funny bone. I love novelty socks with my coffee!
The town square of Mount Ayr can be a fashionable experience. Moda 106 could get you to stay while…You’ll see what I mean!
Clothes, jewelry, gifts and a new hairdo! Look how comfortable I look in that chair!

The Mount Ayr town square is home to an array of popular businesses with one of them specializing in supporting dozens of Iowa products. You can shop local, buy local, and support small businesses in Ringgold County and all over Iowa at Rayr Market!

Mount Ayr in Rayr form! This historic square could be the SW-Iowa center for all things Iowa when it comes taking care of your appetite during a lunch break, finding that special gift or loading up the BBQ in your backyard! Here comes the Rayr Market!
Ringgold Co and Iowa raised meats, sauces and salsas of all kinds, cured sausages, and much-much more. You can order some gourmet pizza while you’re here and get a real taste of Rayr Market!
Hey, it’s Molly! She stopped for a selfie in front their inventory of Iowa beers and wines at Rayr while explaining the innovative concept of this market. The locals of Mount Ayr are lucky to have a community market like this and Molly was incredibly proud of the strides this taste of Iowa has made. Let’s meet for fresh pizza, spaghetti sauce, beer, bratwursts and jams again!
On the edge of Mount Ayr is an “only one in Iowa” farmers and businesses, and it’s right here in Ringgold County at Walnut Creek Farm Greenhouse!
The Breneman family has a lot to offer when regular customers and the stream of travelers, wander in. A variety of produce, flowers, plants, tobacco, herbs…..Wait! Did I just say tobacco? The bottom right corner of these pictures shows us some of Walnut Creek’s prized tobacco plants that float in their containers over the shallow waters in the greenhouse. This makes Walnut Creek Farm the only tobacco producer in the entire state of Iowa. They also sell individual tobacco plants to take home, which will eventually bloom into a beautiful flower. A souvenir you can only get in Mount Ayr, Iowa!

Stay Active

Another “only place in Iowa” experience is near Kellerton where you can behold one of the state’s most amazing grasslands. Wide open prairie, unforgettable skies and a birding haven in Ringgold County. Get ready to do a prairie chicken dance!

Just off of HWY 2 is the Ringgold chicken gem that hosts its own unique kind of scenic treasure.
The wide open spaces with an observation deck to view it all at Kellerton Grasslands.
Birding isn’t something I partake in with every Gallivant, but I’ve never been on a mission to observe wild prairie chickens! One of the best Western Iowa horizons I put eyes on all year.


I always like to give folks a reminder about the convenience of small towns in Iowa and beyond. We’ve done the shopping and birding, and now it’s time to see my comfortable accommodations that’re less than 5 minutes away from the square!

The Mount Ayr Inn Hotel & Suites is directly off of HWY 2 and horseshoe throwing distance to everything in Mount Ayr! 1304 South Street 641-464-3500
Hello, pretty lobby! Now, that’s some nice historic photography you have there!
Inside my Mount Ayr hotel room is this pleasant scene. Wonderful sunlight, modern design with great furniture and comfortable bed.
I like to get a pic of me and the flat screen TV sometimes. They can be very entertaining!

Let’s Eat Steak

*We’d like to thank the Ringgold County Cattlemen’s Association for sponsoring our meals on this day in their welcoming communities. This sponsorship includes a massive meal you’re about to see!

Back to the Mount Ayr town square and a supper directly out of the smoker at Still Smokin’ BBQ!
Still Smokin’ BBQ is your Ringgold County haven for all us meat and potato lovers out there! Steaks, brisket, pulled pork, and a whole lot more to go with the cheesiest of potatoes. Click on the video below and see the biggest slice of Prime Rib that’s ever showed up on my plate!
There are THREE superstars in this video!
Somewhere behind that chunk of Prime Rib is a happy man. Are there Still Smokin’ seconds available?

Bonus Beef

Tingley is the name and it’s a town that has a kitchen crew cooking some delicious meals for the wanderers of the world and the constant regulars that can’t wait hear about the specials. It’s bonus beef time at the Wagon Wheel Café!
Philly Steak sandwich was the Saturday special and that’s exactly what I needed for an introduction to Tingley! Cheesy, beefy and loaded with mushrooms, peppers and onions. Rich in flavor while served fast and hot out of the Wagon Wheel Café kitchen!

There’s so many reasons to thank our farmers because our daily lives can’t go on without them. This includes the tourism industry that I’m so connected to. I had the pleasure of meeting up with the folks of Hoover Angus Farm and received a tour of their rolling pastures. Let’s take the ATV and check on the cows!

This herd of Angus was ready for their guest appearance on the trail! There’s always going to be a story and a hardworking family that’s paired with every farm and pasture we drive by. Click on the video below and get a sample of the education you can receive from the Hoover family!
Nicely done, Hoovers! Those cows really know how to show up on time, too.

Roadside America & History

Call me a buff! Go ahead, I don’t mind. Restaurant buff, travel buff……You get the point. I’m also a roadside attraction and history buff especially when I can experience both of them at the same time. Get in, everyone…We’re heading to Beaconsfield, Iowa! Population: 15…..

Iowa’s least populated incorporated city is Beaconsfield, and it’s home to some of Iowa’s most well known and important history!
Not only is Beaconsfield the hometown of Peggy Whitson, who is one of the greatest astronauts in NASA history, it’s also home to this building that’s recognized as the very first Hy-Vee. That would be some precious history in any town and you can find it all in this Ringgold County community that has less than 20 people living inside its city limits.
The town pump still on display in Beaconsfield and forever in the center of the road within this old SW-Iowa community.

Ellston, Iowa may be a small community, but it’s storing a huge amount of SW-Iowa history. Open the doors because I’m ready for another round of education and this time from Bob Swanson of the Ringgold County Historical Society at the Pioneer Museum!

The pioneering past comes alive in this Ellston historical facility. Decades and decades of ag history is housed in this large building and it could keep a farming buff occupied for a long time in Ringgold County!
Tractors, tools, implements and agricultural artifacts that span the test of time. One can even ask for assistance to activate some of these exhibits! That’s right…..Interactive historical farming tech in Ellston!
One of our nation’s rarest flags is draped over the wall and still proudly displayed at the Pioneer Museum.
Thresher history and locals forever remembered at the Pioneer Museum.
One room school houses may have closed down, but they’re not forgotten in Iowa. One of them still stands on the grounds of the Pioneer Museum in Ringgold County. I forgot to bring an apple!
And now for all you public art hunters! The Pioneer Museum in Ellston has some murals you’ll want to cozy up to as well.

The roadside attractions kept popping up all over Ringgold County. I just got on the road and kept going and stopping for photo-ops with turn after turn.

Hey, I know that couple! Time for a picture together in Tingley at it’s beautiful Memorial Park. Keep that sun shining, you two!
The Mount Ayr town square with its county courthouse, Civil War memorial, proud flags and the big blue Ringgold skyline all around us.
Whoa! Did I drive too far? Sometimes when you’re cruising down the gravel roads, you’ll bump into the neighbors. I better get back because I’m on a Ringgold Gallivant! Looking good though, Missouri….

Evening Out

The night was going to arrive at some point and with it came more beauty. Natural and historic all at the same time. The unforgettable evenings await in SW-Iowa…..

Sunset over Ringgold County. This is what I love to see at the end of my day anywhere. Western Iowa is full of these opportunities and it can be breathtaking in rural Ringgold.
The Princess Theater lights up the Mount Ayr nights on the square. Sometimes your getaway needs a night out and sometimes your night out needs a getaway. Eat, shop and be entertained in this inspiring community!
The Mount Ayr Inn Hotel & Suites was illuminating comfort on this night as it always does. I had no problem falling asleep in my room and feeling refreshed the next day. That’s always a great way to close out a Gallivant. The staff was so kind and helpful while I was here, and made me feel like one of their local pals. You did a fantastic job, Mount Ayr Inn Hotel & Suites!

It was my second time visiting Ringgold County since we started The Iowa Gallivant in 2014. This time I was able to explore a lot more of this area, and I saw why so many of its residents have faith in this collection of proud SW-Iowa communities. New businesses hugging up to established institutions on the square. Preserving important local history in museums and monuments that are always calling out to another carload of visitors. The longtime farming families supplying beautiful acres of opportunities while incoming entrepreneurs show eagerness to produce their own opportunities with each open sign displayed in their windows. Exploring the state like this can give you a whole new look at what it means to be welcomed, and it truly unveils the spiritualism of travel. I could use a few more rounds of Ringgold over and over again.

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

Make your reservations for the Mount Ayr Inn Hotel & Suites by calling 641-464-3500

I wasn’t done with the delicious side of Mount Ayr. Everything bagel sandwich from the folks at Rayr Market that called to me the next morning! You really can experience a little bit of “everything” in Ringgold County!
Click here and like the Ringgold County Cattlemen’s Association on Facebook!

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