Hunting & Fishing

The Loess Hills State Forest offers over 12,000 acres of the best whitetail and wild turkey hunting in the Midwest.  The steep and rugged terrain of the forest help our deer grow to trophy size. Broken up into four units, each has a food plot left in all winter long.

Bass, catfish, bluegill and crappie are swimming nearby our main entrance in Monona County's Savery Pond.

Loess Hills State Forest

Iowa's newest state forest is located in western Iowa in Harrison and Monona counties. Currently the forest is 11,600 acres in size. When acquisition is complete, it will be approximately 20,000 acres.

Loess Hills are a unique geographical formation that reaches its fullest development only in western Iowa and China. The hills are composed of finely ground wind blown silt from glacial deposits. As the glaciers melted, the Missouri Valley became a major channel for enormous quantities of water. Each winter as the glacial melt waters froze, large areas of flood deposited sediments were left exposed to the wind. Silt, clay, and fine sand from these areas were lifted and blown to the east and deposited in the dune like hills we see today.

The forest is open to hunting except for areas within 200 yards of residences and the headquarters area.  Hiking and cross-county skiing is also available.

The Preparation Canyon Unit has a small lake for kayaking and fishing. An overlook on the north edge provides a spectacular view of the forest. Preparation Canyon State Park is located on the northeast corner of the unit.

Preparation Canyon State Park

The 344-acre Iowa state park is a remote and lovely area relatively untouched by humans. Only a few miles from the Hideaway, this park is located in the Loess Hills, surrounded by dramatic ridges on the north, south and west. Visitors will enjoy walking along the many streams and springs. Picnic tables, two shelters, and non-modern toilets are provided.  Preparation Canyon lies at the very north end of Loess Hills State Forest. A nature study area is located in the eastern area of the park.

Visit the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for a map & more information.

Loess Hills Scenic Byways

Recognized by Scenic America as one of the nation's "Ten Most Outstanding Scenic ByWays" in 1992,  this ByWay winds through Western Iowa's unique hills formed of loess. Covered in prairie and forest, the visitor can enjoy nature in every season. The main route is 220 miles of paved highway or country road in a general north to south direction, paralleling Interstate 29.

These fragile giants, are unique to Iowa and China. Only in these two locations in the world, do the deposits of loess (pronounced 'luss') reach a height of more than 200 feet above the adjacent valleys. Loess has been formed over centuries from the interaction of the glaciers, soil and winds. This creates a scenic, unique place to visit and enjoy wildlife and plant life.

Some prairie plants seen nowhere else in Iowa endure in the hills. Plants like yucca, ten-petal blazing star, spear grass, tumble grass, and prairie moonwort.  Among the animals are the prairie rattlesnake (only near Westland), plains pocket mouse, upland sandpiper, zebra swallowtail, ornate box turtle, and plains spadefoot toad. 

Long ago, the hills were inhabited by wooly mammoth, camel, giant beaver, and sloth. Stone tools, spear points, pottery and burials indicate humans inhabited the hills before the first coming of Christ. When Lewis and Clark visited the area in 1804, the Sioux, Omaha, Iowas, Pottawattamie and Oto Indians were living there. At that time, the hills were mainly prairie. Although the prairie is still dominant on some hills, today you will find farms, communities and roads.

Iowa Tourism

For more regional information, brochures and maps, please visit the Loess Hills Hospitality 
Association and Gift Shop nearby in Moorhead, IA, or call them at (712) 886-5441.

For more statewide information about Iowa tourism please visit the Iowa Division of Tourism.