During my first visit to Iowa, one of the things that stood out to me were the bridges. I loved the architecture and the diversity of the styles of bridges that we experienced during our stay.
Train Bridges Past and Present
Step back in time on a scenic train ride on a path that dates back to the early 1900’s with Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad.
During the train ride you will pass over two vintage tresses with elevations that are surprising, if you have an impression that all of Iowa is flat.
The views of the valley from a vintage train make for a memorable adventure. There are several excursion theme experiences to choose from that appeal to all ages.
A Former Train Bridge Repurposed
High Trestle Trail
The 25 mile recreational trail stretches from Ankeny, Iowa, to Woodward, Iowa. The 13 story- high former train bridge across the Des Moines Valley has been turned into an incredible piece of functional art that is beautiful day or night.
The half mile trail bridge is one of the largest trail bridges in the world and I would argue that it’s one of the coolest. I would highly recommend visiting around sunset so that you can experience the art installation as it transitions from day to night.
More Colorful Bridges
Gray’s Lake is located less than 2 miles from downtown Des Moines. The 167 acre park surrounding Gray’s Lake is a popular place for walking or riding bikes.
The close proximity to downtown Des Moines gives you the best of both worlds with a mix of urban and scenic views.
From the scenic bridge, you can view kayakers and fishermen and some pretty spectacular sunsets. The best sunset during my visit was viewed from this colorful bridge.
The Iowa Women of Achievement Bridge was a treat to walk across. I loved the modern design and it’s purpose to honor notable women from Iowa’s history.
Built for walkers and bikers, this bridge connects the east and west sides of the city. The bridge also lights up at night but unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to view it that way but I did catch a glimpse of the fun fishing themed park by the riverwalk.
The Bridges of Madison County gained even more popularity thanks to the novel and the movie that starred Clint Eastwood and Merryl Streep. You can still visit 6 of the 19 original covered bridges.
The Roseman Bridge was one of the filming locations from the movie “The Bridges of Madison County.” There is a gift shop onsite and a scenic river below that is a nice launching spot for kayaks.
Hogback Covered Bridge
You might notice graffiti inside some of the bridges. I was told that they are referred to as “stories” If you want to leave your story the old fashioned way, you can join others by writing your thoughts down in the “Dreamer’s Journal.”
The journal entry that stated “Don’t follow your dreams, follow my snapchat” made me laugh at the clashing of time periods where covered bridges and social media collide.
Check out these sample itineraries for ideas for planning a visit.
There are 4 miles of trails with canyons and bluffs to discover at Ledges State Park.
Pack a change of clothes on a warm day because this park is a popular spot to wade in the creek. You can find families of all ages enjoying their time in and out of the water at the state park.
The bridges are just the beginning of what Iowa has to offer for visitors. I’ll be sharing more of my discoveries soon!
Thanks again to Travel Iowa for hosting my visit.
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