First Day Hikes scheduled at Iowa State Parks with the Parks Passport and guided hikes New Years weekend

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) invites Iowans to step outside and enjoy Iowa state parks and forests in the 2023 First Day Hike Challenge. Visitors can ring in the New Year with the Parks Passport on their own, or by joining park staff on a guided hike.

“First Day Hikes are a popular tradition in state parks, and the Park Passport is a great way for people to enjoy winter hikes,” said Sherry Arntzen, chief of the Iowa DNR’s Parks, Forests and Preserves Bureau.

With the First Day Hike Challenge, park visitors can check into more than 50 participating state parks and forests on the Park Passport from December 30 through January 1. Visitors can explore as many parks as they wish - every check-in will qualify for a prize drawing of a two-night stay at a cabin at Pine Lake State Park, Eldora. Some restrictions and fees apply.

Hikers can experience the quiet beauty of nature in winter, and spectacular views, beautiful settings and cultural treasures. Several parks and forests will host guided hikes on New Year’s Day, including some providing hot chocolate and snacks. Participants should dress for winter conditions.

More details on First Day Hikes, including a list of guided hikes with times and meeting locations at 17 different state parks or forests throughout Iowa, are available online at According to that DNR website listing, Yellow River State Forest in rural Harpers Ferry will be hosting a guided hike at 9 a.m. New Year’s Day, January 1. Participants can meet at the Forest Headquarters/Fire Tower and will hike the nearly three-mile mile loop from the cabin to the Browns Hollow Trail up to the Fire Tower and back to the cabin. See additional information on Page 2 inside this week’s edition of The Standard, call 563-586-2254 or check the Friends of Yellow River State Forest website or Facebook page for additional information.

That DNR website also has a guided hike being hosted at 10:30 a.m. by Pikes Peak State Park January 1. Participants can meet at the Stone Shelter at 32264 Pikes Peak Road, McGregor and will take part in a one- to two-mile hike with scenic views followed by hot drinks. Contact 563-873-2341 or for additional information.

The State Park Passport is free and can be downloaded onto mobile devices at Visitors will find trail suggestions and directions from park staff under the “More Info” tab for each park on the Passport.