If you are headed out on a road trip to take in the Iowa fall colors, you should make sure to put the little corner of Northeast Iowa on your list of chosen destinations. If your journey takes you to Decorah, I highly recommend that you stop at Palisades Park. Right within the Decorah city limits, it hugs the beautiful bluffs that only grow in their stunning visual aspect when the colors of autumn blaze through the leaves of the many trees that adorn the landscape. I made a trip there the other day and was immediately greeted by a red-headed woodpecker, I believe. I’m no ornithologist, but it had a certain grace to it that made me glad I’d made the trip. I carefully made the steep ascent on the narrow winding road that cuts a rather circular path around the bluff. A few leaves blew in the air from the tree canopy above me as I made my way to the very top.
At the top, there is a scenic overlook that lets you take in the whole of Decorah’s cityscape. The Upper Iowa River is in prominence right below, which makes Palisades Park a great location from which to branch out to other outdoor activities in the surrounding Decorah area. I took a moment at the overlook to sort of soak in this little gem of a community that has no dearth of natural wonder. I snapped a few photos and thought it could be a great place to do a little writing as well or place to come just for a bit of inspiration.
If you enjoy hiking, mountain biking, or are a fat tire bike fan, Palisades Park really is a little slice of paradise. There are numerous trails available that seem to range from the primarily grassy to the more rugged and muddy. While I tend to keep my biking to the street and flat trails, this is definitely a place to play if you enjoy a bit more adventure on two, human-powered wheels.
Too tired to make the drive back across the state after a day of hiking or biking? You’re in luck. Palisades Inn is right at the base of the park. This cozy inn is surely able to accommodate your need for a good night’s rest so that you can take in the autumnal treasures of Decorah the next day as well.
So, if you’re in the mood for a fall drive, put Decorah’s Palisades Park in your GPS and find your way there. You’ll likely leave relaxed and refreshed, and perhaps just a bit readier for winter knowing you’ve made the most of the season of color-tinged leaves.
Photo credit of Palisades Park trailhead to author