The Iowa Great Lakes region is so much more than just the beautiful chain of lakes that draw so many people.
When the docks and hoists are out of the water and boats are stowed away, the area still beckons visitors and residents outdoors with a different kind of natural beauty. Amidst stands of native prairie, big bluestem is turning a delightful purple and other flora shines with a golden flare. Forests are alive with brilliant shades of amber, plum and mahogany. Wetlands waters are glassy and alive with green reeds and chattering waterfowl.
There is still so much to see and so many ways to connect with nature as fall is upon us.
Join the Dickinson County Conservation Board in enjoying the colorful autumnal view at Fort Defiance State Park during the next Hike the Wild. Meet at the Dickinson County Nature Center in Okoboji at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27, and carpool to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ park in Estherville.
“The main reason for heading over to Fort Defiance in the fall is to take in the spectacular fall colors in the mixed deciduous forest there,” said environmental education coordinator Karess Knudtson. “This state park is beautiful year-round, but it really shines in the autumn.”
Fort Defiance State Park is the perfect place to explore autumnal colors, as its 191 acres of woodland is full of a variety of trees, from hawthorn to plum to locust to oaks.
“It’s a hidden area that is close to the Iowa Great Lakes that has great trees, a good variety of trees and hiking trails,” said naturalist Charles Vigdal. “This time of year it is very pretty, and we hopefully will see some wildlife while we’re there too.”
All ages are invited to tromp through the woods, breathe in the scent of fall and watch for birds, deer, turkeys and other wildlife.
The next day, get close to nature in a different way. October’s Art and Nature series workshop will be "Completely Concrete", at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28. Those who pre-register will get to create one-of-a-kind miniature concrete planters, made from recycled containers, to use to grow succulent plants.
“Succulents are fun plants to grow any time of year,” Knudtson said. “When the temperature drops in the fall, simply bring them inside to enjoy green all winter long. They come in a huge variety of shapes and colors and are relatively easy to care for. Two main things to remember --- allow them about six hours of bright sunlight each day and do not overwater them. They do not like soggy roots, so if you allow the soil to dry out between each watering they will remain happy.”
Registration for this class is $5, to cover the cost of materials and a succulent. Participants may take home their planters the evening of the class, or they may leave it at the nature center to dry and may pick it up the following day.
A minimum of five students ages 9 and older are needed for the "Completely Concrete" class to be held, so make sure to call 712-336-6352 to register by 4 p.m. Oct. 27.
For more information on any Hike the Wild or Art and Nature programs, please call 712-336-6352 or click here. The Dickinson County Nature Center is located at 2279 170th St., Okoboji, and is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday.