Outdoor Exploration in Council Bluffs

To celebrate National Travel & Tourism Week, we are highlighting Council Bluffs’ best outdoor adventures!


Hitchcock Nature Center

With Iowa’s prized Loess Hills right in our backyard, Council Bluffs is just steps away from some of the greatest hiking and million-dollar vistas along the Missouri River. In the heart of the city, Fairmount Park offers wooded hiking trails and great views of the Omaha skyline. Vincent Bluff State Preserve takes you through the prairie with sweeping views of the entire metro. Hitchcock Nature Center’s robust network of trails allows you to hike through hills, prairies, and wooded areas.


Wabash Trace Nature Trail

Council Bluffs is home to a 41-mile continuous system of trails idea for cyclists! The trails wind from the east side of town and connect to the Omaha metro through the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. Popular routes include the Wabash Trace Nature Trail, home to the Thursday Taco Ride, the Iowa Riverfront Trail, First Ave Trail, Lake Manawa State Park Trail, and Valley View Trail. Didn’t bring your bike with you? No worries! Several Heartland Bike Share bike stations throughout town allow you to rent electric bikes.

Water Adventures

Lake Manawa State Park

Lake Manawa State Park features a 700-acre lake perfect for paddleboarding, boating, fishing, swimming, and kayaking! The beach area is a great place to relax and enjoy the summer weather with a game of sand volleyball, sandcastle building, or swimming. Several of our parks feature splash pads perfect for kiddos, including Fairmount Park, Bayliss Park, and Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park. Just a short drive east, the West Nishnabotna River Water Trail is perfect for a lazy float or paddle trip.


Hitchcock Nature Center Camping Cabin

You won't run out of camping options in Pottawattamie County! The newly opened RV campground at Lake Manawa State Park features 40 modern sites with excellent lake, beach, and Dream Playground access. Several Pottawattamie Conservation parks, including Hitchcock Nature Center, Arrowhead Park, and Botna Bend, offer primitive backpacking camping, tent, RV, and both camping and modern cabin options.

But Wait! There's More!

Council Bluffs and Pottawattamie County are home to so many unique outdoor experiences and natural landscapes to explore! Unearth a special day by learning about our scenic byways, recreational trails, and parks. 

This post was originally published on May 9, 2023 on the Unleash Council Bluffs blog.