Driftless Area Scenic Byway


  • DesignationState Byway
  • LocationIA
  • Length144 miles
Dedicated Byway Visitor Information
Northeast Iowa RC&D
Statewide Byway Partners
Iowa Department of Transportation
Iowa Byways Map - Download
Driftless Area Scenic Byway
NE Iowa RC&D Photo


The most scenic state byway in Iowa, the 144-mile Driftless Area Scenic Byway zigzags its way across the distinctive landscape of Allamakee and Winneshiek Counties in northeastern Iowa. As the last glaciers passed over Iowa, this area remained untouched, resulting in a striking region of gashed and furrowed terrain known as the “Driftless Area.” The panoramic vistas here offer views of majestic limestone bluffs, forested valleys and winding river bottoms carved by the Mississippi, Yellow and Upper Iowa Rivers. These natural wonders also provide many outdoor recreation opportunities, such as hiking miles of state forest trails, fishing for trout in cold water streams, exploring the rivers by boat, or simply enjoying the peaceful natural scenery.

Just outside of Harpers Ferry, Effigy Mounds National Monument features a collection of animal-shaped mounds built by prehistoric Native Americans. The landscape is also dotted with evidence of settlers who followed, including historic stone churches, pioneer cemeteries, unique bridges and museums that interpret the heritage of the area. The towns along the byway offer shopping, lodging and dining alongside exquisite scenery. Fall is an especially scenic time on the byway as the hardwood timbers blaze with color.

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