Outdoor Fall Activities

We've all been waiting anxiously for the weather to cool down, the leaves to start changing colors, and to pull our favorite sweater out from the back of our closet. Fall has officially arrived, and it's time to enjoy all that mother nature offers this time of year. We've listed our favorite outdoor activities to enjoy in the Council Bluffs area below so you can plan your next autumn adventure!

After a long day exploring the outdoors, unwind with a relaxing stay in a Council Bluffs hotel. Click on our hotel options to browse and book today.

Use our interactive trip planner tool to help you plan your unforgettable getaway in Council Bluffs! As you browse the website, look for the pin icon to save things to do, places to eat, events to attend, blogs, and more. Once you've curated your list, you can send it to yourself, share it with friends or family, and easily access it at any time! 

Hiking through the Hills!

@zachbrobstphotography

There are so many places to hike and enjoy the crisp fall air in Council Bluffs! In the heart of the city, you will find Fairmount Park, which is an autumn paradise. The park is lined with various native trees, and there are numerous trails and lookout spots to enjoy.

Enjoy the fiery hues of the prairie at Vincent Bluff State Preserve, which is just minutes away from Fairmount Park. The trails at Vincent Bluff take you on top of the Loess Hills and gives you spectacular views of the entire metro.

About 20 minutes away from Council Bluffs, you'll find Hitchcock Nature Center, a nature lovers' paradise! Choose from hiking the trails, walking on the boardwalk, watching for birds atop the 45-foot HawkWatch tower, or camping. You won't run out of things to do here!

Bike Riding

@jacobboynton

The weather is cooling off, and the days are getting shorter, but cycling in autumn is an unbelievable experience! Hit the trails and explore the countryside on the Wabash Trace Nature Trail. The majority of the crushed limestone path is shaded by trees making this a perfect place to check out the changing colors. The Wabash is best known for being the home of the Thursday Taco Ride! Local and out-of-town cyclists meet at the trailhead in Council Bluffs and head out on a 20-mile round trip trek for tacos at Tobey Jack’s Mineola Steakhouse. The ride is weather permitting and typically goes through the end of October.

Council Bluffs is also home to a 41-mile continuous trail system giving you unlimited amounts of routes to choose from! These paved trails link together, and you can access some of the most popular trails, including the Lake Manawa Recreation Trail, Iowa Riverfront Trail, and Valley View Trail.

Don't have a bike or left it at home? No problem! There are several Heartland BCycle stations throughout town where you can rent both classic and electric bikes for a small fee. Visit Heartland BCycle's website and download their app to learn more!

Horseback Riding & More at Shady Lane Ranch!

@wildlywanderlust

Nothing says fall more like horseback riding, hayrack rides, and private campfires. Shady Lance Ranch has it all! Enjoy a perfect autumn day in the great outdoors. Their staff can take you on a scenic hour-long hayride through the property and drop you off at your private campfire, where you can cook food and socialize under the stars. Call 712-323-1932 to book your unforgettable visit!

Try a New Sport

@nothing.but.chains

Nestled among the Loess Hills, the Treasure Cove Disc Golf Course has 18 holes and is the perfect place to enjoy a game of frisbee golf! The course is located on Iowa Western Community College's beautiful campus and offers various throw placements making it an excellent place for beginners and professionals alike.

The sport of pickleball has increased in popularity in the last few years, and there are both indoor and outdoor courts available in Pottawattamie County! At Kimball Park, a small neighborhood park in CB, you will find two recently added pickleball courts which are perfect for a fun autumn game. Located further out in the county, you will find another court in Carson, IA! If the weather is a bit too chilly for your liking, head over to the Iowa West Pickleball Courts for unforgettable fun! Six courts allow you to drop in for a session, but please note that you need to pre-register to play by emailing councilbluffsapb@gmail.com.  Each session is $7.50. Visit the Council Bluffs Area Pickleball Club website for a schedule of open sessions.

Complete Bob's 0.9k Challenge on the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge

@justcallpaul4all

Have you ever stood in two states at the same time? Not only can you accomplish that on the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, but you can do it while standing over a river! This 3,000-foot-long and 15-foot-wide bridge connects Council Bluffs to Omaha, Nebraska, across the Missouri River and was the first pedestrian bridge built that connected two states. "Bob" the Bridge serves as a way for walkers, runners, bicyclists, and other outdoor enthusiasts to access 150 miles of trails within the metro area!

Don't forget to capture this adventure by "bobbing" – striking a pose while standing in two states simultaneously!

Outdoor Events to Check Out

There are several events that are happening this fall in Council Bluffs and Pottawattamie County that would be the perfect addition to your outdoor adventure this fall! We've suggested a few below, but head over to our calendar for a complete list of events happening in CB and Pottawattamie County! 

Taco Ride | Wabash Trace Nature Trail 
Every Thursday thru October (weather dependent)

Farmers Market Council Bluffs | Bayliss Park
Every Thursday thru September 29

Avoca Main Street Farmers Market | North 200 Block of Elm Street in Avoca
Every Wednesday thru September 28

Arrowhead Obstacle Trail Run | Arrowhead Park
September 24 

Prairie Seed Harvest | Hitchcock Nature Center
September 27 

BIKEtober and BLOCKtober | Historic 100 Block of West Broadway
October 8

Fairview Cemetery Guided Walking Tour | Fairview Cemetery 
October 9 

Prairie Seed Harvest | Hitchcock Nature Center
October 11

RECtoberfest | Tom Hanafan River's Edge Park
October 15 

HawkWatch 5K Run / Walk | Hitchcock Nature Center
October 22 

Prairie Seed Harvest | Hitchcock Nature Center
October 23

Fairview Cemetery Guided Walking Tour | Fairview Cemetery 
October 27

Fairview Cemetery Guided Walking Tour | Fairview Cemetery 
October 30

Fairview Cemetery Guided Walking Tour | Fairview Cemetery 
October 30

Bison Fest at Botna Bend Botna Bend Park
November 5 

The Fun Doesn't Stop There!

Pottawattamie County is home to so many unique outdoor experiences and natural landscapes to explore. Unearth a special day in Council Bluffs by learning about our pumpkin patches and orchardsrecreational trailsscenic byways, and nearby water trail.

For a complete list of attractions, click here!

For a complete list of places to eat, click here!

Don't forget to book your hotel stay with one of our properties, by clicking here!

This post was originally published on August 23, 2022 on the Unleash Council Bluffs blog.
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