Big plans for New Year’s Day? The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center says that temperatures across Iowa should be ‘Near Normal’ --- which equates to highs NEAR 30. If your New Year's Resolution involves more exercise, well here you go!

Iowa state parks and forests invite you to join the second annual First Day Hike Challenge. You can take the family and visit state parks on your own, or join a guided hike at more than 20 parks and forests.

How It Works (according to

  • Check into any of more than 50 participating state parks and forests on the Park Passport from Friday, Dec. 31, 2021, through the end of Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022.
  • Every check-in qualifies for a prize drawing for a free 2-night stay at a 2-bedroom cabin at Lake Darling State Park, near Brighton, Iowa! (Restrictions and booking fees apply.)
  • Visit as many parks as you want during the weekend -- every check-in counts as a contest entry.
  • As an option, join a Guided Hike at more than 20 parks, led by park staff and Friends Groups, with some offering hot chocolate and snacks.

If you are lucky enough to win the two-night stay at one of the 11 cabins at Lake Darling, the state park includes a 302-acre lake and you can hike several trails at Lake Darling, including a path to an 1800s cemetery.

Any size motor is allowed on the lake at a “no wake” speed. Paddle boats, canoes, stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, and a rowboat are available to rent.

If you’d like to spend time fishing at Lake Darling, it’s abundant in catfish, crappie, largemouth bass, bullheads, bluegills, and carp.

List of Parks and Forests with Events on New Year’s Eve Weekend:

Iowa DNR
Iowa DNR

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