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North Iowa Outdoors: First Day Hikes at Iowa State Parks

Join the Fun with the Parks Passport and Guided Hikes.

The DNR invites Iowans to step outside and enjoy Iowa state parks and forests in the 2023 First Day Hike Challenge. Visitors can ring in the New Year with the Parks Passport on their own, or by joining park staff on a guided hike.

“First Day Hikes are a popular tradition in state parks, and the Park Passport is a great way for people to enjoy winter hikes,” said Sherry Arntzen, chief of the Iowa DNR’s Parks, Forests and Preserves Bureau.

With the First Day Hike Challenge, park visitors can check into more than 50 participating state parks and forests on the Park Passport from Dec. 30 through Jan. 1. Visitors can explore as many parks as they wish — every check-in will qualify for a prize drawing of a two-night stay at a cabin at Pine Lake State Park, Eldora. Some restrictions and fees apply.

Hikers can experience the quiet beauty of nature in winter, and spectacular views, beautiful settings and cultural treasures. Several parks and forests will host guided hikes on New Year’s Day, including some providing hot chocolate and snacks. Participants should dress for winter conditions.

More details on First Day Hikes, including a list of guided hikes with times and meeting locations, are available online at www.iowadnr.gov/firstdayhikes. The State Park Passport is free and can be downloaded onto mobile devices at https://explore.traveliowa.com/checkout/311/travel-iowa/1619/iowa-state-park-passport Visitors will find trail suggestions and directions from park staff under the “More Info” tab for each park on the Passport.

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