Maquoketa Caves State Park is among the Iowa parks offering free, guided hikes on New Year's Day 2016. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Maquoketa Caves State Park is among the Iowa parks offering free, guided hikes on New Year’s Day 2016. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

The weather forecast for Jan. 1 in Iowa is seasonal, which means cold, but the New Year offers a great opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors.

Iowa is offering free guided hikes in 19 state parks on New Year’s Day as part of the fifth annual First Day Hikes initiative.

All 50 states participate in the program. Learn more about Iowa’s efforts from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources:

“First Day Hikes are a great way to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature and welcome the New Year with friends and family,” said Todd Coffelt, chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources State Parks Bureau.  “What better place to ring in the New Year than in one of our beautiful state parks? We are excited to host First Day Hikes as part of this national effort to get people outdoors and get healthy.”

Iowa’s state parks boast a variety of beautiful settings for year-round outdoor recreation, and each First Day Hike will provide an opportunity to explore the unique natural and cultural treasures close to home.

Staff and volunteers will lead First Day Hikes in the following state parks:


Gitchie Manitou State Preserve

Stone State Park

Dolliver Memorial State Park

Brushy Creek State Recreation Area

Ledges State Park

Springbrook State Park

Prairie Rose State Park



Wilson Island State Recreation Area

Green Valley State Park

Waubonsie State Park



Walnut Woods State Park

Honey Creek State Park

Honey Creek Resort

Lake Darling State Park



Backbone State Park

Mines of Spain State Recreation Area

Pikes Peak State Park

Yellow River State Forest

Maquoketa Caves State Parks

Hikes will average one to two miles or longer depending on the location.  Most of the hikes are pet friendly and welcome people of all ages.

“For those concerned about the big game that day, with the exception of one park, hikes will be completed before kickoff,” said Coffelt. “For those of you who aren’t interested in the Rose Bowl, we have another rose for you to consider. Prairie Rose State Park in Shelby County will hold a special owl prowl hike beginning at 5 p.m. Staff and hikers will do their best to call in owls or at least get them to ‘talk back’ during this special hike.”

First Day Hike participants are encouraged to log their adventures on social media with #FirstDayHikes and #IowaStateParks. Details about Iowa’s hikes can be found at

All 50 states will participate in this fifth annual event. To see a comprehensive map of First Day Hikes across the country, visit