By Victoria Ward, Byway Coordinator, Pathfinders RC&D
The Historic Hills Scenic Byway is one of 14 designated byways in the state of Iowa. This byway rolls through five counties in southeast Iowa and includes 11 byway communities and over 20 corridor communities. Davis County is right in the center of this 110-mile-long route that showcases state parks, farmsteads, and abundant history.
In 2011 and 2012 a statewide initiative took place that resulted in easy-to-see byway signage for 10 of Iowa’s byways. You will have no doubt that you are traveling the Historic Hills Scenic Byway when you see the vibrantly colored signs that feature the bloom of a redbud tree. Along this route you are sure to enjoy beautiful scenery.
Six interpretive signs will be installed in the summer of 2021 at historic sites along the byway. They will share the history of early Moravia, the historic Bloomfield Square, Dr. Findley home at the Davis County Museum Complex, the Troy Academy, Hotel Manning in Keosauqua, and the early mills in Bonaparte.
From the east end to the west end, be sure to watch for the newly-designed bale sculptures along the third annual Bale Trail. The uniquely decorated bales depict life in the rural region of southern Iowa.
On the west end of the Davis County section, you can enjoy a day at Lake Wapello State Park. Fishing, hiking camping, boating swimming, hunting and many other outdoor activities await you; even a serene afternoon of listening to the birds sing and the crickets chirp.
As you travel along the Byway towards Bloomfield, be sure to drive carefully and share the road with Amish buggies. While passing through Drakesville plan to stop at the little central park to take in some history, and the new Freedom Rock. Then head out to the city park on the edge of town to see one of the Mormon Trail cabins along the Byway. You can also grab a bite to eat while you are there!
Bloomfield offers hours of entertainment and fun. Tour the courthouse, take the historic driving tour, stop at the museum or enjoy the peace and quiet at McGowen Recreation Area. Whatever you choose to do while you are in town you’re sure to be met with a friendly smile and a welcoming handshake.
Historic Hills Scenic Byway has worked with many organizations over the past years to improve the traveler experience. Currently, the Byway is working with Davis and Van Buren Community Foundations, Humanities Iowa, Iowa Tourism, and the Nauvoo Historic Site on projects that promote tourism. Additionally, the Iowa DOT has worked diligently to provide a travel that is user friendly for all.
Visit the byway website at www.iowabyways.org. While in town, be sure to stop at the Welcome Center to pick up the Iowa Byways Travel Guide and learn about Bloomfield.
Come see us on the Byway and enjoy historic districts, wonderful scenery, quaint communities, one-of-a-kind businesses, and great southern Iowa hospitality.