Across Iowa the leaves are beginning to change and fall. The temperature has dropped significantly and that means that even more of the leaves will be following suit. If you were hopping to take in the yellow, orange, and red colors that fall brings we have some amazing areas that are well worth the trip across Eastern Iowa.

Credit: Iowa DNR
Credit: Iowa DNR
loading...

According to the Iowa DNR, this week (October 5-15) is the peak for our Northeastern quadrant of the state. This week is best for enjoying a fall leaf-peeper road trip to the beautiful driftless region (I'm looking at you Decorah & Harpers Ferry). Lots of vibrant colors from sugar maple, sumac, Virginia creeper, ash, walnut, basswood, and cottonwood. White pine trees are dropping their two-year old needles. Aspens are starting to turn yellow. Some maples have even dropped their leaves early, likely due to the summer’s drought.

Credit: Tom Ehlers Yellow River State Forest
Credit: Tom Ehlers
Yellow River State Forest
loading...

In central Iowa peak season is just underway (October 8-14) hard maples are showing some red, yellow and orange in areas. Sumac are bright red and crimson. Hickory, walnut, cottonwood, and hackberry are getting yellow. Virginia creeper vines are bright red. Drought stress is causing some early leaf loss which will reduce overall colors.

Credit: Tom Ehlers Overlook at Effigy Mounds in Harpers Ferry.
Credit: Tom Ehlers
Overlook at Effigy Mounds in Harpers Ferry.
loading...

In Southeastern Iowa peak viewing season should be around October 20th with urban maples showing red, yellow, and orange. Scattered white ash are showing some purple. Walnut, elm, hickory, and cottonwood are showing yellow; some are losing their leaves. Poison ivy, sumac and Virginia creeper will even be turning bright red.

Ok we get it, the leaves are changing, but where are the best places to see a massive amount of color. Don't worry I've got you covered, check out the list and take a road trip.

Pulpit Rock: Decorah, IA

Credit: Tom Ehlers My better half in front of Pulpit Rock and up the stairs is a view you won't soon forget.
Credit: Tom Ehlers
My better half in front of Pulpit Rock and up the stairs is a view you won't soon forget.
loading...

The view from Pulpit Rock Overlook is worth the trip alone, not to mention you can stop by my favorite brewery for a Pseudo Sue afterwards at Toppling Goliath. Decorah in general is just a beautiful place to take a hike in. There are also waterfalls, biking, and loads to enjoy and do.

Credit: Tom Ehlers Here's the beauty of Dunning's Spring Park.
Credit: Tom Ehlers
Here's the beauty of Dunning's Spring Park.
loading...

Volga River State Recreation Area: Fayette, IA


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by LLB Photo (@lllbphoto)

Memorial Day weekend was a blast here with the kids. It's a beautiful area that many equestrians enjoy for its expansive trails. We took things by kayak rather than horseback on our trip. Whichever you decide, the area is full of wildlife and beautiful scenery.

Credit: Tom Ehlers The view across Volga Lake at sunset.
Credit: Tom Ehlers The view across Volga Lake at sunset.
loading...

Backbone State Forest: Dundee, IA

Iowa’s first state park, Backbone State Park is geographically unique for Iowa. The steep and narrow ridge of bedrock from the Maquoketa River forms the highest point in northeast Iowa: The Devil’s Backbone. It's what gives the park its legendary name.

Credit: Ashley Ehlers The view across Backbone Lake.
Credit: Ashley Ehlers The view across Backbone Lake.
loading...

Pikes Peak: Guttenberg, IA

Credit: Tom Ehlers Great River Road leads you to some pretty amazing overlooks. This one is just outside of Guttenberg as we head up to Iowa's Pikes Peak.
Credit: Tom Ehlers Great River Road leads you to some pretty amazing overlooks. This one is just outside of Guttenberg as we head up to Iowa's Pikes Peak.
loading...

Truly majestic views of the Mississippi River, Pikes Peak State Park is one of Iowa’s premier nature destinations. Located on a national scenic byway, the park features 11 miles of trails brimming with scenic bluffs and valleys. Don't forget to check out the Bridal Veil Falls on your hike through.

Credit: Ashley Ehlers Bridal Veil Falls along the trail at Pike Peak.
Credit: Ashley Ehlers Bridal Veil Falls along the trail at Pike Peak.
loading...

Driftless Area National Wildlife Refuge - Fern Ridge Unit: Elkader, IA

Credit: Google Maps
Credit: Google Maps
loading...

Driftless Area National Wildlife Refuge was established under the authority of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 for the protection and recovery of the federally threatened northern monkshood plant and the endangered Iowa Pleistocene snail. Not far from this location is another great Elkader spot in the Retz Memorial Woods State Preserve. The preserve has several miles of trails that wind through the woods and along the banks of the Wapsipinicon River.

Get our free mobile app

New Wine Park: Dyersville, IA

Credit: Ashley Ehlers
Credit: Ashley Ehlers
loading...

Small and satisfying for a quick and fairly easy hike. My suggestion is to take Tornado Trail up to the top of the ridge. The view will surely be worth it this fall.

Dubuque Arboretum: Dubuque, IA

Credit: Tom Ehlers View from the path at the Dubuque Arboretum.
Credit: Tom Ehlers
View from the path at the Dubuque Arboretum.
loading...

This easily accessible and scenic 56-acre community space features 60+ types of gardens, plus a playground, trails, tours & events. It a great way to see the change in fall with a walk through the mature forest. And my favorite, the koi pond.

Credit: Tom Ehlers Koi in the pond at the Dubuque Arboretum.
Credit: Tom Ehlers
Koi in the pond at the Dubuque Arboretum.
loading...

Swiss Valley Nature Preserve: Peosta, IA

Credit: Ashley Ehlers Trees are turning at Swiss Valley Nature Preserve.
Credit: Ashley Ehlers
Trees are turning at Swiss Valley Nature Preserve.
loading...

My family hikes here often. Take the chance to get the perfect fall picture of the kids or the whole family. The trails may be steep in spots, but the view is always worth it.

Credit: Ashley Ehlers My kids by the trout stream that runs through Swiss Valley. This area is directly below the Nature Center.
Credit: Ashley Ehlers
My kids by the trout stream that runs through Swiss Valley. This area is directly below the Nature Center.
loading...

Mines of Spain: Dubuque, IA


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Mines of Spain State Recreation Area (@minesofspain)

The Mines of Spain Recreation Area is located on 1,437 acres of beautiful wooded and prairie land just south of Dubuque. The area has been designated as a National Historic Landmark and includes Julien Dubuque’s Monument at a point just above where Catfish Creek meets the Mississippi. Trails provide a wide range of opportunities for visitors to view old winding logging roads, limestone bluffs, scenic overlooks, and forests and prairie land. Horseshoe Bluff (seen below) is still one of my favorite hikes and looks especially beautiful at this time of the year.

Credit: Ashley Ehlers
Credit: Ashley Ehlers
loading...

Whitewater Canyon Wildlife Management Area: Bernard, IA

Credit: Tom Ehlers A deer enjoys a cool drink from White Water Creek. This photo was taken from the overlook.
Credit: Tom Ehlers A deer enjoys a cool drink from White Water Creek. This photo was taken from the overlook.
loading...

This one is so close to where I live that my family spends loads of time there. From mushroom hunting and berry foraging to deer hunting, this area provides it all and a stunning view from the overlook or from the stream bottom trail.

Credit: Tom Ehlers This is still one of my favorite shots from hiking at White Water.
Credit: Tom Ehlers This is still one of my favorite shots from hiking at White Water.
loading...

Buzzard Ridge Wildlife Area: Monmouth, IA

Credit: Tom Ehlers This panoramic view of Black Hawk Creek is beautiful. It empties into the Maquoketa River near the campground area.
Credit: Tom Ehlers This panoramic view of Black Hawk Creek is beautiful. It empties into the Maquoketa River near the campground area.
loading...

This is truly a hidden gem. It takes some doing to find it, but once you get there the view is spectacular.

Maquoketa Caves State Park: Maquoketa, IA

 

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

  A post shared by Ashley Ehlers (@ehlersash)

Everyone has been to Iowa's famous cave system, and it never gets old adventuring there. The shot above was taken by my wife Ashley from one end of the main cave system that leads to the "Dance Hall." These photos and places truly make Iowa seem like "God's Country."

Eden Valley County Refuge: Baldwin, IA

Credit: Tom Ehlers Eden Valley
Credit: Tom Ehlers
Eden Valley
loading...

Brilliant fall colors erupt from every location at Eden Valley. We managed to hike all the trails there in the spring and would love to revisit for a fall adventure. Make sure to take a trip across the suspension bridge.

Credit: Tom Ehlers
Credit: Tom Ehlers
loading...

Wildcat Den State Park: Muscatine, IA

Credit: Tom Ehlers
Credit: Tom Ehlers
loading...

This is one of the most photographed Iowa state parks, with both historical and natural treasures to explore. Trails wind through a variety of terrain, leading to geological formations along the trail’s sandstone bluffs. Visit the Pine Creek Grist Mill for a glimpse into Iowa’s past. Wildcat Den State Park is the ideal destination for some fall leafing!

Credit: Tom Ehlers Pine Creek Grist Mill
Credit: Tom Ehlers
Pine Creek Grist Mill
loading...

Wapsipinicon State Park: Anamosa, IA

Credit: Iowa DNR / Seth Rathnam
Credit: Iowa DNR / Seth Rathinam
loading...

My grandfather use to walk these woods often. My family and I also explore the caves and trails throughout the area including the "upside-down bridge." Wapsipinicon State Park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Many of the park’s structures, including the stone arch bridge, lodge, and shelters were handcrafted by prisoners from the nearby Anamosa State Penitentiary and remain historic icons to visit. The Wapsipinicon River area is abundant in unique formations, geology, and animals.

Credit: Ashley Ehlers
Credit: Ashley Ehlers
loading...

Yellow River State Forest: Harpers Ferry, IA

Credit: Tom Ehlers This overlook on the way up to the fire tower at yellow river is worth the trip alone.
Credit: Tom Ehlers
This overlook on the way up to the fire tower at Yellow River is worth the trip alone.
loading...

I saved what is easily the best for last. If you have never made the trip to Yellow River, you need to. The driftless region of Iowa doesn't bet prettier than this. Yellow River State Forest in northeast Iowa is home to stunning views, beautiful woodlands and meandering trout streams. Yellow River offers numerous outdoor recreation opportunities including camping, equestrian riding, hiking, mountain biking, fishing, hunting, and more. Yellow River State Forest was first established in 1935 and is home to Iowa’s only fire tower, built in 1963.

Credit: Tom Ehlers Iowa's driftless region will offer the best fall foliage viewing around.
Credit: Tom Ehlers
Iowa's driftless region will offer the best fall foliage viewing around.
loading...

Photos: Northeast Iowa's Yellow River State Forest

Exploring Yellow River State Forest in Northeast Iowa.

Gallery Credit: Tom Ehlers

Photos: Eden Valley Refuge

A trip through the trails and nature center at Eden Valley Refuge in Baldwin, IA

Gallery Credit: Tom Ehlers

Photos: Palisades-Kepler State Park

Take a hike through Palisades-Kepler State Park, just outside of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Gallery Credit: Tom Ehlers

Photos: Effigy Mounds National Monument - Harpers Ferry

Gallery Credit: Tom Ehlers

More From 98.1 KHAK