Northeast Iowa’s bluffs bordering the Mississippi River provide some of the top fall foliage views in the state. Now to mid-October offers optimal peeping at towns such as Lansing, McGregor, Guttenberg and Dubuque. This view is from near McGregor and Pikes Peak State Park.
Writer: Beth Eslinger
Here at our home base in Des Moines on the first week of fall, the maples downtown and on Grand Avenue are seeing lipstick red kisses. These maples serve as early indicators it’s time to get out and enjoy the season. Bonus: Fall drives and hikes amid nature make for ideal social-distancing escapes.
Through the DNR’s website, you can track the optimal spots to soak in the views as recommended by the state’s top foresters. You’ll find the latest colors statewide and can even sign up to receive weekly color reports.
Peaks start early in the northern third of the state—now to mid-October. Central Iowa typically spikes for viewing the first through third weeks of October, and southern Iowa extends the season to the last half of that month.
Autumn is a top time to visit state parks to enjoy the season, says Iowa Outdoors Magazine editor Brian Button with the DNR. Near McGregor: “Pikes Peak State Park offers America’s most majestic views of its mightiest river with the highest bluff on the entire 2,330-mile length of the Mississippi River. You can take in expansive views of forested bluffs in a riot of color, a maze of backwater islands below, and boats and barges, plus there are 11 miles of hiking amid fall color.”