The American Midwest is characterized by boundless stretches of flat amber plains, but that’s not the whole truth. In a country as geographically massive as the United States, sometimes the land takes curious shapes the likes of which are seldom seen anywhere else. Nestled in the westernmost portion of Iowa, there are a series of highways traversing the Loess Hills. These gentle rolling dunes were created by thousands of years of silt and dirt being blown about by the prevailing winds and eventually conquered and stabilized by grass.
There are many routes you can take to travel the Loess Hills, ranging from high-quality highways to gravel roads. The basic route you need to follow is simple: stay close to the Missouri river and stay off I-29. Like the hills themselves, this is a very laid back road trip. You can take it at your own pace and feel comfortable knowing that you’ll never stray too far from the interstate. You can make a day trip of it, and depending on which direction you’re headed, stay in Lincoln, NE or Sioux Falls, SD for the night.
Going to Iowa may not top the bucket list of starry-eyed travelers who set their sights on big cities, high mountains, and expansive oceans. The Loess Hills are not so dramatic. They are a delicate paradise spread over hundreds of miles. To me, that’s reason enough to pack a cooler and put gas in the car.