by Scenic America as one of the nation's "Ten Most Outstanding
Scenic ByWays" in 1992, this ByWay winds through Western
Iowa's unique hills formed of loess. Covered in prairie and forest,
the visitor can enjoy nature in every season. The main route is 220
miles of paved highway or country road in a general north to south
direction, paralleling Interstate 29.
These fragile giants, are unique to Iowa and China. Only in these two locations in the world, do the deposits of loess (pronounced
'luss') reach a height of more than 200 feet above the adjacent
valleys. Loess has been formed over centuries from the interaction of
the glaciers, soil and winds. This creates a scenic, unique place to
visit and enjoy wildlife and plant life.
prairie plants seen nowhere else in Iowa endure in the hills. Plants
like yucca, ten-petal blazing star,spear grass, tumble grass, and
prairie moonwort. Among the animals are the prairie rattlesnake
(only near Westland), plains pocket mouse, upland sandpiper, zebra
swallowtail, ornate box turtle, and plains spadefoot toad.
Long ago, the hills were inhabited by wooly mammoth, camel, giant
beaver, and sloth. Stone tools, spear points, pottery and burials
indicate humans inhabited the hills before the first coming of Christ.
When Lewis and Clark visited the area in 1804, the Sioux,
Omaha, Iowas, Pottawattamie and Oto Indians were living there. At
that time, the hills were mainly prairie. Although the prairie is
still dominant on some hills, today you will find farms, communities