With exams, papers, homework and clubs, student life at Iowa State can be pretty stressful sometimes and though it is often nice to distress by binge watching Friends on Netflix, it can be even more relaxing to explore the great outdoors. Here are some of the best places around Ames to enjoy a nice warm day.
Ledges State Park
Though Iowa is known for its flat landscape and corn fields, there is actually many locations near Ames that are fun to visit and explore. Most of the Iowa State Parks offer steep hiking trails and great views, the closest of which is Ledges State Park.
With its sandstone cliffs, winding wilderness trails and nearby lakes, Ledges is one of the best places in Iowa to enjoy a nice summer day. Located only 25 minutes from Ames in Madrid, Iowa, Ledges is one of the best nearby places to go hiking, camping and fishing.
Ledges has a variety of hiking trails including one that leads to the ruins of an old cabin, a few that end next to the Des Moines River, and some that offer breathtaking views of Pea’s Creek ‘Canyon’.
My top 3 favorite trails are:
- Crow’s Nest Trail
- This popular 1 mile trail up the north side of Canyon road leads to scenic views of sandstone cliffs and the Des Moines River valley from the Crow’s Nest look out.
- Lost Lake Trail
- This 1.1 mile trail includes prime birdwatching spots, markers for various plants and a fully accessible A.D.A route for those who cannot hike the more difficult areas of the park.
- Reindeer Ridge Trail
- This short .35 mile connector path on the south side of Canyon road leads to breathtaking views from the Table Rock overlook.
Ledges also has 95 different campsites including some in secluded areas that you have to hike to access. As an Iowa State students, you can rent outdoor equipment like tents, sleeping bags, canoes and more for low prices from the ISU’s Recreation Services.
Plan your visit to ledges here.
In my opinion, Reiman Gardens is one of the prettiest locations at Iowa State. Located next to Jack Trice Stadium, Reiman Gardens is home to a collection of elaborate gardens, many artistic statues and even a serene butterfly enclosure. It is the perfect place to visit for a relaxing stroll, to see art or even to learn a new skill!
Reiman Gardens hosts a variety of fun events and classes for people of all ages looking to gain new skills. The list of their classes and events includes:
- Kids Story time every Thursday from 10 to 11 am,
- Photography classes from professionals that teach beginners and intermediates about lighting, shutter speed and framing,
- And a cooking/ gardening class that shows how you can use different herbs and vegetables in recipes.
You can also plan fun things to do at Reiman Gardens on your own or with friends like:
- Study for a big test,
- Bring your lunch and have a picnic,
- enjoy a romantic first date,
- And so much more!
To learn more about Reiman Gardens’ events, art exhibits and to register for classes, click here.
Art Around Campus
If you’re looking forward to enjoying a little bit of art on campus, you won’t have to search very hard! Iowa State’s campus is covered with beautiful paintings, sculptures and architecture both indoors and outside. You can even enjoy the art on campus from your computer screen by using Iowa State’s interactive art map.
My favorite art pieces or exhibitions on campus are:
- The Brunnier Art Museum
- The Brunnier Art Museum, located in the Scheman Building on campus, is the only accredited museum emphasizing a decorative art collection in Iowa. Inside this exhibit you will be able to enjoy a wide array of different art including textiles, ceramic pottery and sculptures, paintings and so much more.
- The G-Nomes and DNA Double Helix
- These 12-foot-tall terra-cotta sculptures are located on top of each corner of the Molecular Biology building on the northwest end of campus. The artist, Andrew Leicester, created the large G-Nomes to represent the research being done within the Molecular Biology Building on the genetic code.
- The Elizabeth and Byron Anderson Sculpture Garden
- This outdoor art exhibit wraps around Morrill Hall on central campus (next to Parks Library) and includes winding footpaths, beautiful landscaping and unique sculptures like the Panther below.
Whether you’re hiking to Lost Lake at Ledges State Park, having a picnic at Reiman Gardens, or even just taking a leisurely walk around campus it is important to get out, relax and enjoy the warm summer weather (while we still can)!
Where are some of your favorite outdoor places in Ames? Comment below and let us know!