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Outdoor Summer Adventures in Council Bluffs

Whether you want to unwind or gear up, you don't have to search far to find a natural escape in Council Bluffs. Spend your day undisturbed in CB's parks, trails, and wild adventures. This might be uncharted territory for some – but not for you, soon.

After a long day on the trails, unwind with a relaxing stay in a Council Bluffs hotel. Browse our hotel options and book directly on our site by using our Book Direct tool!

Ride Through the Countryside on the Wabash Trace Nature Trail

Two bikers on on the Wabash Trace Nature Trail

Hours: Open 24 hours
Cost: $2 per day or $20 for a year pass
Tickets/Admission: You can pay in exact change at the trailhead or purchase annual passes online or at local retailers like Xtreme Wheels Bike and Sport in Council Bluffs. 

Local bicycling enthusiasts rave about the Wabash Trace Nature Trail, a converted railroad right-of-way that runs from Council Bluffs to Blanchard on the Iowa/Missouri border. The trail spans 63 miles and crosses 72 bridges through southwest Iowa. Most of the path is covered by a canopy of trees, creating much-appreciated shade cover. The trail is relatively flat, making it an excellent trail for all skill levels.

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. Learn more about the taco ride in our blog!

Mileage Between Towns:

  • Council Bluffs to Mineola: 9.6 miles
  • Mineola to Silver City: 4.3 miles
  • Silver City to Malvern: 8 miles
  • Malvern to Imogene: 13.6 miles
  • Imogene to Shenandoah: 8.9 miles
  • Shenandoah to Coin: 12.5 miles
  • Coin to Blanchard: 5.4 miles

Hiking, Camping, Birdwatching & More at Hitchcock Nature Center

A woman on the observation deck overlooking the Loess Hills

Hours: 6:00 a.m. – 10 p.m. daily
Cost: $5 per vehicle per day or $20 for an annual membership
Tickets/Admission: Pay with exact change or check at the park gate

Nestled in the Loess Hills, Hitchcock Nature Center is a nature lover's wonderland! The well-loved park is best known for its hiking and striking views. Outdoor enthusiasts will be amazed by the 10-mile trail system that networks together, allowing visitors to create and enjoy a hike of any length or difficulty they desire. Because of the Loess Hills' unique landform, the trails vary in difficulty ranging from easy flat ridgeline walks to challenging steep climbs. Explore the trail map to choose a route that fits your needs! 

Other fan-favorite activities at the park include bird watching from the 45-foot tall HawkWatch Tower, modern and primitive camping, exploring the hands-on exhibits at the Loess Hills Lodge Interpretive Facility, attending educational programs, and more! There is an endless amount of nature fun to be had here.

Spend the Day on the Water at Lake Manawa State Park

Woman on a stand up paddle board

Cost: Out-of-state visitors must pay a $5 daily permit

Lake Manawa State Park is a premier destination in Council Bluffs and Pottawattamie County, offering residents and visitors 1,529 acres of outdoor recreation and a beautiful 700-acre natural lake. Check out our Lake Manawa State Park guide for information on water activities, fishing, the beach, camping, trails, and more! 

Take in the Best Views: Lewis & Clark Monument Scenic Overlook

A scenic view of the Missouri River

Hours: 8:00 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Cost: Free

The Lewis and Clark Monument Scenic Overlook commemorates Meriwether Lewis and William Clark's 1804 expedition that led them to Council Bluffs, where they had a historic meeting with the Otoe and Missouri tribespeople. Located in the Loess Hills, the site allows visitors to take in stunning views of the Missouri River, Council Bluffs, and the Omaha skyline. The overlook is also home to a popular mountain biking trail that also serves as a great hiking trail. You will also find picnic tables at the park, making it a great place to enjoy a meal outside.

Visit Lauritzen Gardens, the Metro's Premier Botanical Garden

A couple walking through the indoor gardens at Lauritzen Gardens
Photo courtesy of Visit Omaha

Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 8 p.m. Monday & Tuesday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Wednesday thru Sunday
Cost: Adults: $15, Children ages 3 to 12: $9, Children 2 and under: free
Tickets/Admission: Purchase your tickets there or purchase a timed ticket online before your visit.

Some days are too hot, and rain may be in the forecast. Don't let that stop you from reconnecting with nature! A visit to Lauritzen Gardens will transport you to a peaceful botanical oasis offering both indoor and outdoor garden experiences. Located right across the river into Omaha, Nebraska, the facilities feature a rose garden, children's garden, model railroad garden, and Victorian garden. The beauty and tranquility of the botanical center will have you leaving feeling refreshed and inspired.

Feel the Rush at TreeRush Adventures at Fontenelle Forest!

A family on the tree top obstacle course at TreeRush
Photo courtesy of TreeRush Adventures

Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 10 p.m. daily
Cost: Ages 12+: $59, Ages 7-11: $48
Tickets/Admission: Book your ticket online!

Thrill-seekers will love the climbing and zip-lining excitement at TreeRush Adventures in Bellevue, Nebraska, just a short drive from Council Bluffs! The park has two main attractions, TreeRush Adventure Park (ages 7 and up) and KidsRush Adventure Park (ages 4-6). Both include trails with bridges, zip lines, and swings made from wood, cable, and rope. The courses have varying levels of difficulty, so you don't have to be a pro to give this adventure a try!

The Fun Doesn't Stop Here!

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 golf courses, recreational trails, scenic byways, and nearby water trail.

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! 

For a complete list of attractions, visit our play page!

For a complete list of places to eat, browse our restaurant listings!

Don't forget to book your hotel stay with one of our properties by using our Book Direct tool!

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509 23rd Ave.
Council Bluffs, IA 51501
844-271-6909 | 712-256-2577
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