of the Iowa River Corridor
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Iowa Valley Scenic Byway
The Iowa Valley Scenic Byway traverses a 77 miles stretch of the Iowa River Corridor, and is anchored by two very distinct cultures. The upstream portion of the byway skits the Meskwaki settlement, created when the Meskwaki tribe purchased an initial 80 acres in 1857, and has grown ever since. The downstream portion tours the seven villages of the Amanas. The Amana Colonies were settled in 1855, as a communal society, by Germans fleeing religious persecution.

Interspersed along the byway are the railroad towns of Montour, Tama, Chelsea and Belle Plaine and the Iowa County seat of Marengo. All are separated by intervals roughly dictated by the distance a pioneer farmer could travel to town and return home again in one day.

As one travels along the byway, a rich and rolling landscape presents itself, with wooded bluffs, scenic valleys, and newly restored prairies and wetlands. The landscape has changed considerably since the time of European settlement. The vast prairies and oak groves have yielded to pastures and crops, yet efforts to restore some of the corridor's natural heritage are ongoing.

The combination of pastoral farms and the returning natural beauty, offer the traveler a sight to behold. The byway has remained relatively untouched by development and urbanization, and consequently, retained the rural character of Iowa.

Download Iowa Valley Scenic Byway Brochure (pdf)

View map of byway


Bunch Flower
photo by C. Taliga

Photo by Carl Kurtz

Praire Fire "Prairie Fire," an 1857 lithograph by Henry Lewis, Collection of the State Historical Society of Iowa.