RoadRUNNER’s Bucket List Roads: Cruising the Loess Hills National Scenic Byway

Oct 15, 2018 View Comments by

Loess Hills National Scenic Byway

During the last Ice Age, some 10,000-plus years ago, winds picked up soils, which had been ground as fine as flour from glacial activity, and deposited them in dunes along what is today Iowa’s western border. In time, topsoil was formed and anchored by native grasses. The land became exceptionally fertile for farming, which attracted many settlers. A 200-mile series of connected roads, which has been designated as the Loess Hills National Scenic Byway, leads riders on a serpentine path through this 640,000-acre topographical wonder. The rolling hills, which rise some 200 feet above the nearby Missouri River, provide a blissful ride through a gentle, bucolic landscape.

Scenery: Picture-perfect Middle America farmland and rolling native grasslands provide sweeping panoramas from the road.
Curves: Some sweepers with modest elevation changes.
Traffic: Relatively little traffic along the byway, except near the two major cities of Council Bluffs and Sioux City.
Distance: Approximately 200 miles on the paved byway, but various scenic side loops on paved and gravel roads can easily double the mileage.
Time Required: One to two days, depending on the number and duration of stops along the main byway.
Technical Difficulty: Basic riding skills should be sufficient.

Points of Interest:
Loess Hills Interpretive Center
Lewis and Clark Expedition: Sergeant Floyd Monument
Murray Hill Scenic Overlook
Harrison Country Historical Village & Welcome Center
Todd House Museum
Southern Loess Hills Interpretive Center


  • Reader suggestion: 
  • I visit this area frequently and would like to recommend an additional point of interest that riders may find interesting. An old sunken steamboat carrying supplies up the Missouri river was unearthed with well preserved supplies still intact. A museum was built to display these items just few miles west of Missouri Valley, IA, on US highway 30.  – Steven Segebart, Dayton, OH.


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Tags: , Categories: Classic Roads, Destinations