Imagine a world without the clamor of ringtones, notifications, and alerts; a place where only birds tweet, only geese honk, and the only alarm clock is the morning sunshine. If that sounds ideal to you, you're in luck – because no matter where you are in Iowa, that world is right around the corner.
The Greater Burlington area offers off-grid opportunities for everyone, from the crunchiest nature-lover to the dedicated urbanite. From the shores of the Mississippi to the deep woods, here you’ll find the best of both worlds. Plenty of opportunity to get off the grid while still being close enough to essential services that even city folks won’t get too nervous.
Big Hollow Recreation Area is a perfect example! At just about 800 acres, including a 178-acre lake with swimming beaches, fishing jetties, and boat ramps, Big Hollow is a park you can choose to get lost in. But the extensive trail system surrounding the lake (including some equestrian trails) – not to mention the WiFi in the RV campsites – makes getting back to civilization as easy as you want it to be. And there’s so much more to do here! Big Hollow boasts shooting ranges, a model airplane field, and playground, and is also home to the Witte Observatory. The observatory is operated by the local astronomy club free and open to the public on select dates throughout the summer.
A smaller and lower-tech option is Welter Recreation Area in southern Des Moines County. Popular with local campers, RVers, and tubers, the park sits along the banks of the Skunk River and features 28 campsites in two distinct loops, 12 of which offer electrical hook-ups. Other amenities include horseshoe pits, a sand volleyball court, shelter houses, and outhouses. Welter’s more remote location will appeal to rustic tastes, but the little town of Augusta—just minutes away—features a quaint little tavern known for its giant tenderloins and all-you-can-eat chicken.
One of Greater Burlington’s best-kept secrets, the 4th Pumping Station in northern Des Moines County is located on the banks of the Mississippi River. It’s a popular spot with younger campers and especially fishermen. The park has 46 campsites, about half with electric hook-ups, plus a picnic shelter, playground, restrooms and a boat ramp with dock and fish-cleaning station. You’re not likely to get lost at “The 4th” (unless you wander into a cornfield) and the little town of Oakville is just minutes away if you run out of bait.
Greater Burlington also offers endless back-to-nature day trips. Set out to explore the pioneer cemetery at Hunt Woods; check out the caves, scenic vistas, and educational activities at Starr’s Cave Park & Preserve; or hike and bike the Flint River Trail.
This summer, Iowa's parks are set to shine with the 99 Parks promotional campaign. A collaborative effort from multiple state agencies, the campaign aims to help Iowans and visitors rediscover Iowa's county parks and all they have to offer. Before you head out, download the Family Fun Pack for games, educational activities, recipes, fishing tips and at least 99 ways to get inspired in Iowa's parks this summer. Once you’re back on the grid, don't forget to upload those great Iowa parks pics with the hashtag #99Parks!
To learn more about getting off the grid in Greater Burlington, check out VisitBurlingtonIowa.com!
Image credit: Adam Rhodes