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Active, Outdoor Adventure Awaits in Fort Dodge, Iowa

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You might be surprised by all of the active outdoor adventures that are waiting for you in Fort Dodge, Iowa. If you like being active in the great outdoors, you will love this part of Iowa.

gypsum city ohv park

Active, Outdoor Adventure in Fort Dodge, Iowa

I was recently hosted by the Fort Dodge Convention and Visitors Bureau on a three day press trip with several other members of the Midwest Travel Bloggers. All opinions are mine. Our days were jam packed with fun things to do and I enjoyed it so much that I took my husband back a couple weeks later!

This is one post of a two post series about Fort Dodge, Iowa. Learn about the best Fort Dodge Restaurants and more in Part One.

Oh, Iowa. There’s nothing there except flat land and corn. Nothing to do – so boring. These are common misconceptions I hear about Iowa. But that’s not actually the truth.

Mountain biking? Hiking? Fishing? Kayaking? Boating? Camping? Adventures with off-road vehicles? It’s ALL waiting for you in Fort Dodge.

grain silo mural fort dodge (1)

Fort Dodge Iowa Grain Silo Mural

In Part One of my Fort Dodge series, I talked about the Grain Silo Mural and how it was the original inspiration for me wanting to visit Fort Dodge. Little did I know that this community also offers fabulous outdoor activities, in addition to a most interesting history and a dedication to the arts and architecture!

If you love the outdoors, Fort Dodge is also for you! Here are all the fun things you can do in this outdoor adventure rich area.

Did you know that the Fort Dodge region offers 70 miles of water trails for canoeing and kayaking, 65 miles of off-highway vehicle trails, 45 miles of equestrian trails, 30 miles of paved bike trails, 10 miles of mountain bike trails and so much more!? Yes, it does!

1. Lizard Creek Mountain Bike Trails

In addition to the 30 miles of paved bike trail, Fort Dodge also has an amazing 10 miles of mountain biking trails around Lizard Creek. Near the Grain Silo Mural, this park has been built primarily by volunteers from the Fort Dodge Mountain Bike Club.

If you’re a bike enthusiast, you’ll also want to check out Walker’s Bike Shop where you can even rent road bikes and buy an e-bike!

mountain biking at Lizard Creek Mountain Bike Park

Head out on one of the mountain bike trails, then visit the Grain Silo Mural and Amigo’s as well! 

gypsum city OHV Park

2. Gypsum City OHV Park – 

Location: 2390 Mill Road

If you’re an off-road vehicle driving adrenaline junky, Gypsum City OHV Park, located in a reclaimed gypsum mine, is the place for you! Featuring 800 acres, more than 55 miles of ATV trails, a 1.5 acre motocross track, and more – this park can accommodate ATVs, side-by-sides, and off-road motorcycles. 

beautiful scenes at Gypsum City OHV Park

Gypsum City OHV Park is a really beautiful area, full of ponds, wild flowers, and wildlife. I really enjoyed seeing this once strip mined land coming back to life!

Exploring the trails is free with your DNR registration. It’s a serious park, you guys, and safety is of utmost importance. Helmets, ATV Education Certificate for ages 12 – 17, and size requirements required and enforced.

tiny homes for rent at gypsum city ohv park

There’s also a 33-site campground and three tiny homes for rent on a first come first served basis. Learn more at the OHV Park page on Mycountyparks.com.

3. Dolliver Memorial State Park

Location: 2757 Dolliver Park Ave., Lehigh, IA 50557

One of 63 Iowa State Parks, Dolliver Memorial State Park is a great place to put-in for kayaking, hunt for Native American Burial Mounds, and hike up to the cliff above Boneyard Hollow where Native Americans used to run bison over during the hunting season.

kayaking at Dolliver Memorial State Park

Dolliver Memorial State Park features lovely sandstone cliffs, several historic buildings made after WW2 by the CCC and has a campground that rarely fills up + two stone rental cabins as well!!

If you are an Iowa State Park enthusiast, I highly recommend this book: Iowa State Parks, A Century of Stewardship 1920-2020! It’s on permanent display in my house!

kayaking at Dolliver State Park

Water Trails in Webster County

Webster County offers over 70 miles of water trails on two systems: Lizard Creek and the Des Moines River. There are multiple water access points on Lizard Creek – a shallow body of water that has natural rapids. Water levels should be monitored prior to using it as high water will be for experienced paddler only and low water water may require dragging the vessel through. Currently, the water level on Lizard Creek is very low.

You can find access points all along the Des Moines River to the north and south of Fort Dodge. The Des Moines is a wider than Lizard Creek and does not require as much experience as the Lizard. As always, take caution in high or rough water.

Learn more about water trails in Webster County at mycountyparks.com.

4. Brushy Creek State Rec Area

Location: 2802 Brushy Creek Road, Lehigh, IA 50557

Brushy Creek is one of the largest outdoor recreation areas in Iowa. If you like camping, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, and beaches, you’ll definitely want to check out Brushy Creek. We spent a fun day fishing there during our press trip. It’s an incredibly unique fishing spot due to dead trees poking up through the water. 

camp wa-no-ki

5. Camp WaNoKi

Location: 2400 WaNoKi Camp Rd

Not too far from Brushy Creek State Rec Area, Camp WaNoKi used to be a Camp Fire Camp, mostly for girls’ camping trips. Now owned by the Webster County Conservation, it’s a fun place to hike for the day. If you’re up for a little team-building, try out their challenge course.

camp wa-no-ki cabin

The property is gated but the public is welcome to park at the gate and hike the trails. Camp WaNoKi also has a cute little solar powered cabin for rent! There’s an outhouse – no working plumbing, but the cabin is clean, comfortable, and ready for you!

fort frenzy fort dodge

Fun for Kids in Fort Dodge Iowa

In addition to a lot of fun, active adventure, Fort Dodge also offers a lot of perhaps easier outdoor fun for smaller kiddos. If you’re visiting with little kids – make sure to check out these places too!

fort frenzy

Fort Frenzy

Location: 3232 1st Avenue South

Located right next to the Brookstone Inn & Suites, Fort Frenzy features an indoor arcade, bumper cars, go-karts, an escape room, mini golf and more! The whole family will enjoy spending an evening at Fort Frenzy! Check for updated hours – currently open only Friday, Saturday, & Sunday: 11 am – 7 pm.

Book a package deal with the Brookstone Inn & Suites and get lodging and family fun for one low price!

Rosedale Rapids Aquatic Center
Image provided by Kerrie Kuiper, Fort Dodge CVB

Rosedale Rapids Aquatic Center

Location: 1111 N 32nd Street

If your family enjoys water parks, Rosedale Rapids is the place to go! Rosedale Rapids includes 19,530 sq. ft. of water surface area plus numerous slides and fun features. Please check hours before going as staff is limited in 2021 and hours are reduced.

The Children’s Forest and Kennedy Park Playscape at Kennedy Memorial Park

Location: 1415 Nelson Ave

Kennedy Memorial Park is large and popular 400 acre park. Kids will enjoy the Children’s Forest and the Kenndy Park Playscape, but it offers a lot more than those areas. Kennedy Memorial park also features an moving Veteran’s Memorial, 53-acre Badger Lake perfect for boating (no gas motors), fishing, canoeing, a large camping, picnicking, hiking, and the 18 hole Lakeside Municipal Golf Course.

Oleson Park Splashpad

Location: 232 Oleson Park Ave

Your littles will enjoy the Oleson Park Splashpad on hot summer days!

Fort Dodge Regional Airport from the air (1)

Fort Dodge Regional Airport

Location: 1639 Nelson Ave #2

I enjoyed it so much that I took my husband there a couple weeks later!! He flew us there in a little airplane from Iowa City. We landed at the Fort Dodge Regional Airport which actually has two flights a day to Chicago on Sky West! They let us borrow the airport courtesy car and we went to Shellabration!

exploring iowa via little plane (

As fun as the city was to see from the air, I preferred exploring it from the ground. 😉

Make sure to head over to Post One to read about Fort Dodge Restaurants, Lodging, & More!

For more Iowa Travel Adventures, read these posts:

Winterset and the Scenic Bridges Covered Byway

A Visit to Eldon and the American Gothic House Center

Eastern Iowa State Parks You Must Visit

Visiting 2 of Iowa’s 99 County Parks

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About Michelle

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long time green living enthusiast and rural Iowa mom of four. An avid traveler, Michelle has lived on three different continents and has driven all four kids across the entire USA (by herself!). She loves sharing farm-to-table recipes, their family travel adventures, and gardening and homesteading tips on her popular lifestyle blog, SimplifyLiveLove.com.

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