Northeast Iowa’s Scenic Byways

The most scenic state byway in Iowa, the 144-mile Driftless Area Scenic Byway zigzags its way across the distinctive landscape of Allamakee and Winneshiek counties. As the last glaciers passed over Iowa, this corner of the state remained untouched, resulting in a striking region of gashed and furrowed terrain known as the “Driftless Area.”

Driftless Area Scenic Byway Map (PDF)

If you come to the 109-mile River Bluffs Scenic Byway for the view, you won’t be disappointed. This byway plays hide and seek with three rivers, crossing them at times, providing distant views of the river valleys at others and culminating with a mesmerizing three-state view of the Mississippi River from Pikes Peak State Park near McGregor.

River Bluffs Scenic Byway Map (PDF)

Explore the landscape that inspired Grant Wood on the 80-mile Grant Wood Scenic Byway in Jones and Jackson counties. The surrounding countryside is a patchwork of beautiful rolling hills and limestone bluffs connecting three rivers. and featuring museums, historical sites, antique shops, restaurants, parks, art galleries and wineries.

Grant Wood Scenic Byway Map (PDF)

The Delaware Crossing Scenic Byway is a 36-mile loop of paved and gravel roads across Delaware County. The byway traverses through and around the communities of Hopkinton, Delhi, Delaware and Manchester as well as the unincorporated towns of Lake Delhi and Buck Creek. Delaware County in its entirety is considered to be within the byway corridor. 

Find more Scenic Byways Publications, including maps, culinary passports, tour guides, and guidebooks.


History of Iowa’s Scenic Byways

Since the inception of the Iowa Byways Sustainability Project (IBSP) in May of 2008, Resource Conservation and Development Councils (RC&Ds) across Iowa have been working collaboratively with the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) to preserve, protect, interpret, and promote Iowa’s Byways.  This project serves as a catalyst for Iowa’s Byways to become engines for economic vitality, historic preservation, and community and transportation planning across the state. Northeast Iowa RC&D serves as the lead entity to build the capacity of the Driftless Area, River Bluffs, Delaware Crossing, and Grant Wood Scenic Byways. To date, stakeholders and councils have been established, new byway wayfinding and signage has been installed, GIS mapping has been complete, byway photos have been taken, marketing materials have been developed, Interpretive Master Plans and Corridor Management Plans have been completed, and work continues to implement these plans to improve and expand upon each of these byways. Visitors who travel these routes explore landmarks and other sites of interest that truly make this region of Iowa distinctive and diverse. Byway travelers experience breathtaking views, unique shopping, year-round outdoor recreation, entertaining festivals, exceptional dining, welcoming people, and stunning sunrises and sunsets. 

Be sure to check out all of Iowa’s state and national byways.  These routes are offered to those who wish to relax and stop often to enjoy Iowa’s scenic beauty and sites of interest.  Estimated driving time ranges from 1.5 hours to 3.5 hours, depending on your speed and number of stops.