As far as motorcycle rides go, the fall season is one of the most beautiful (and popular). The cooler temperatures are wonderful for riding and many people enjoy leaf runs in various parts of the state. There is nothing more beautiful than twisting down the road and seeing, smelling and hearing our beautiful countryside. Many will ride well into October and there are usually some organized leaf rides that take place in the first part of October.
One of my favorite areas to ride this time of year is through the Loess Hills. From Sioux City to Hamburg, there are plenty of back roads to run around on and see the sights. I always stick to the coutry roads and try to stay off of the big pavements. There are plenty of country roads that are asphalt or concrete – with no need to hit gravel (unless you want to). There are also plenty of stops along the way for food or a cold drink – or to get more gear if you run into some cooler weather while on the road. Some of my favorite stops along this particular route are:
- The Midway in Soldier
- Leather & Hawgs in Hornick
- The Sportsman in Pisgah
- Loess Hills Harley Davidson in Pacific Junction
- Tobey Jack's in Mineola
In the Fort Dodge area, Dolliver State Park is always beautiful when the leaves are turning. Stop by for a motorcycle-themed burger at Rides Bar & Grill in Fort Dodge. Heading out of the city – you can find some cool roads south and east of Dolliver and you would be mistaken to pass Lehigh, Iowa. This little town on the river is scenic and is home to the Riverside Tavern, and is a popular spot in North Central Iowa for some good grub and to wet your whistle. Also in the area:
On the east side of the state, the roads and river views are amazing. Anywhere from Burlington to Waukon, you can hop on the Great River Road or many others to see the sights. Some of the cool spots that I like are from Clinton north to McGregor. Stop by Driscolls Island outside of Sabula (Iowa's only island town). Check out the grated bridge that traverses the Mighty Mississippi and provides what I like to call, an “interesting ride!” Dubuque has an awesome stop on the river in Catfish Charlie’s; great food and a nice welcoming atmosphere. You can even hop on a boat for a river tour here. Off the river a bit, J&P Cycles and the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa are must stops for any biker. Here are a few more great stops:
- Knuckleheads in Anamosa
- Baxa's Sutliff Store & Tavern
- Dam Riverview Sports Bar in Guttenberg
- Barney's Tavern in Wadena
My best advice is that no matter where you go – especially if in a different territory than you normally run - always stop by or call a local motorcycle dealership. Many of them have maps and information on the local roads and vittles and they are more than willing to offer assistance.
Hit the road.
Editor/Owner, Thunder Roads Magazine of Iowa