5 fun winter activities in REAP areas

By Taylor on February 13, 2015 in Blog

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Winter doesn’t have to be a time to stay cooped up inside. There are plenty activities to get you outdoors and enjoying the beauty of an Iowa winter. Many of the best places to experience Iowa this time of year are supported by the Iowa Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP)* program.

*Although, there is one indoor activity that can help you enjoy the beauty of the outdoors even more. On Tuesday, Feb. 17, come to the Capitol for the 2015 Environmental Lobby Day to tell your legislators why funding the REAP program and protecting Iowa’s natural resources is important to you.

Check out five of our favorite things to do in REAP areas this winter:

1) Birding


Bald eagles flock to river areas in the winter to fish in the open water, making these cold months perfect to spot them. Check out the Julian Dubuque Nature Trail in Dubuque County and the Waterman Prairie Complex in O’Brien County for a chance to see some. In Des Moines County, the Flint River Trail provides choice spots for general bird-watching.

2) Cross-country skiing

If you want to brush up on your skiing skills–and you might as well since Punxsutawney Phil says winter is here for a while longer–Polk County has the Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt, a flat, groomed trail, and the Chichaqua Valley Trail, one perfect for beginners. Head over to southwestern Iowa for the Wabash Trace Nature Trail in Pottawattamie County.

3) Snowshoeing

Snow ruining your hiking plans? Not anymore! Snowshoes not only make walking trails easier, they make it more fun. You can rent these marvelous contraptions at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawattamie County and explore the Loess Hills. (Psst–you can go sledding, too!)

4) Ice fishing

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It’s like fishing–but with ice. Enjoy this classic winter pastime at the Three Mile Recreation Area in Union County or the Brushy Creek State Recreation Area in Webster County. The Des Moines Register named both of these areas as two of the top ice fishing holes in central Iowa.

5) Environmental education

If you’re still convinced that winter outdoor activities are not for you, have no fear. Any time of the year is great for learning about Iowa’s natural resources. The Fossil & Prairie Center in Floyd County includes exhibits on the Winnebago River, Devonian fossils and more. For groups, naturalists from the Warren County Conservation Board can teach education programs at Summerset Trail.