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Photo by KMSQ

Family Activities by Iowa’s Cedar River!

The Cedar River is a 338 miles long river flowing through the state of Iowa. A tributary of the Iowa River, the Cedar River eventually leads to the Mississippi River. Major cities such as Cedar Falls, Waterloo, and Cedar Rapids are part of the Cedar Valley. In these cities and nearby towns, there are many places and opportunities for the family to spend time together year-round. Whether it is spending time outdoors cross-country skiing or spending time indoors learning more about nature.

5 Ways to Get Outside on the Turtle River

Right on the banks of the Cedar River, Ellis Park is a 416-acre park with many amenities. Apart from the 18-hole golf course and clubhouse on-site, there are tennis and volleyball courts, lagoons, water skiing facilities, and an outdoor ice rink. The facilities in Ellis Park can be enjoyed throughout all seasons. One of the more unique features of Ellis Park is their Shakespeare Garden that has a collection of specific plantings that were included in his writing. The garden gives families an opportunity to bond through a conversation about history and art, outside of the other activities that are available at Ellis Park.

Turtle River Winterfest

The Indian Creek Nature Center in Cedar Rapids consists of over five miles of well-groomed trails through prairies, woodlands, and wetlands. Resting on over 500 acres of land, the trails are open 365 days a year with snow gear to rent during winter months. Families can stop by to wander the area with activities like hiking, birdwatching, cross-country skiing, and fishing. The Indian Creek Nature center believes in investing in the next generation by instilling a love for and passing on knowledge on how to care for the environment. Your family can create memories by having all sorts of adventures at the Indian Creek Nature Center.

Photo by Vinton Parks and Recreation

Vinton Park lies right next to the Cedar River in the town of Vinton. Vinton Parks and Recreation specializes in community-based family-friendly fun. They offer numerous activities that you and your family can enjoy. From mini golfing to a skating center, to the many acres of parks, playgrounds, and trails. They have a swimming pool open through the summer season and the skating rink is open year-round for endless amounts of fun. They also host year-round seasonal events and a farmers market in the summer and fall seasons.

5 Ways to Get Outside on the Turtle River

For outdoor enthusiasts, the Cedar River Greenbelt Trail in Mitchell county is a popular option as it has four limestone trails that parallel the west side of Cedar River. The trail includes wooded hills, limestone bluffs, and riverside scenic views for nature lovers. It offers an equestrian trail for those who enjoy horseback riding but biking and hiking are more common on the trail. During the winter season, the trails are open for cross-country skiing. Rental skis are available during the Nature Center hours if you do not own your own. This is a great opportunity to spend time with family and admire the flora and fauna that the trail possesses.

Off Roading with ATVs and UTVs

The Wickiup Hill Outdoor Learning Center was built to increase environmental awareness. With wetlands, woodlands, and prairies on six miles worth of trails. Families can experience the outdoors and develop an awareness and admiration of nature. During the winter, the trails are groomed for cross-country skiing. The learning center also features exhibits inside such as a life-sized Native American display, artifacts, habitat dioramas, and a live animal display. The center is located near the Cedar River in the town of Toddville.

I’m a senior at Winona State University majoring in advertising. I love anything related to arts and culture like dance, music, and visual art.

Carissa Chin

Writer , River Travel Magazine