Where the Trek Begins—Riverside, IA

Where the Trek Begins—Riverside, IA

Exploration and discovery are among the biggest drivers that drag motorcyclists to the road. There’s just something about finding a new place you’ve never seen before, especially if you found it by accident.

Riverside, IA, is a small city famous for being the birthplace of a great explorer—only, he won’t be born for another 210 years. But once he does, he will explore strange new worlds and boldly go where no man has gone before.

Yes, this is about Star Trek.

According to Star Trek canon, Captain James Tiberius Kirk of the starship USS Enterprise (portrayed by William Shatner and later Chris Pines) will be born in Riverside on March 22, 2233. Yet, the showrunners didn’t originally plan this to be the case.

Behind-the-scenes accounts and one off-hand mention in a movie did establish that Kirk was an Iowa native. Where exactly he was from, however, was up for speculation until 1985.

Riverside was hoping to find a theme for its annual town festival that would draw in tourists. During one meeting, city councilor Steve Miller (clearly a Trekkie) suggested that the city could proclaim itself as Kirk’s birthplace.

The council liked the idea and got in touch with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. He gave Riverside his blessing and the town has been Kirk’s official birthplace since.

In town, you can find a plaque commemorating the future birth site of the intrepid space caption. Meanwhile, the Voyage Home Museum showcases Riverside's past, present, and (speculative) future.

Not Just for Nerds

Riverside is more than just a pilgrimage site for science-fiction nerds, though. Iowa countryside makes for a wonderfully relaxed and easygoing motorcycling destination.

The area has plenty of peaceful paved two-laners and packed dirt roads that—while not necessarily having the most thrilling curves—let you zig-zag through rolling hills and endless open plains. If rural America is your thing, this is the place to be.

Speaking of rural America, Riverside sits right by Iowa’s Amish country. Many Amish live around the nearby town of Kalona, offering you a chance to drop by stores to buy traditional foods and handicrafts, or even book a reservation for a dinner at an actual Amish home.

Remember to be respectful of the Amish way of life. Don’t take their pictures (especially without asking) and give a wide berth for their horse-drawn buggies.

While in Kalona, you should also tour the Kalona Historical Village. Various old buildings, exhibits, and tours highlight local life starting from the days of Native American settlement.

If history isn’t your thing, you can golf and gamble to your heart’s content at the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort. Just make sure the one-armed bandit doesn’t steal the title of your bike.

Whether you enjoy the time gone by or the far future, it’s well worth motoring your bike to Riverside. Where else are you going to find a memorial for a person who isn’t even born yet?

Facts & Info

Nearby Attractions

Nearby Roads

Iowa might not be America’s most famed motorcycling state, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t good roads to be found here. Riverside is close to quite a few good loops, and getting to those routes through Iowa’s countryside is a treat of its own.

Motor west from Riverside to Lake Red Rock, and you can hit SR 14/SR to Indianola. This road is a straightforward but laid back cruising experience through calm fields, undulating hills, and a couple of nice sharp turns.

Alternatively, head north to Anamosa and ride Poopy’s Triangle, hitting Dubuque and Sabula, the latter being Iowa’s only island town. This is a fun ride with some decent curves that takes you across the mighty Mississippi. While in Anamosa, go pay your respects at the site where the National Motorcycle Museum used to be.

The Riverside Casino and Golf Resort is a good home base for exploring the area around Riverside. Not far from town, you can easily get around from the casino.

You’ll definitely find space to park even the biggest street barge in the casino’s ginormous parking lot (although you may not necessarily find a spot right by the doors). Some rooms have big walk-in showers where you can easily wash your gear.

With the on-site coffee shop, restaurant, and spa, you can relax in comfort after a long riding day. That is, unless you feel like going to try your luck at the blackjack table.

Best Time to Travel

In general, fall is the best time to travel to Riverside. September and October have mild temperatures, pleasant windy weather, and cheaper accommodations. You may also be able to catch some fall foliage later in the fall season.

Summer is also a good option, although the temperatures will be higher and the air more humid. However, visiting Riverside in June gives you a chance to attend the annual Trek Fest.

Spring and winter might not be ideal times. Springs in the region are rainy and stormy, while winter temperatures plummet well into the freezing territory.