A hidden gem of southwest Iowa, the small town of Honey Creek often gets lumped in with its neighbor, Crescent (and sometimes even lumped together with Council Bluffs, even further south). More rural than town, Honey Creek is an outdoor destination for hikers, leisure drivers looking for a nice view, and the curious types seeking a new-to-them-activity (like goat yoga).
Here are a few adventures you can have when you visit Honey Creek:
Take a hike
Honey Creek is home to Hitchcock Nature Center in Loess Hills, a formation of hills that provides refuge for animals. Hitchcock is situated on 1,268 acres in Loess Hills, and the activities that you can experience with your family will exceed your expectations. Most of the trails are kid-friendly, and one is wheel-chair accessible.
- Hitchcock Nature Center, 27792 Ski Hill Loop, Honey Creek
Tag a monarch or watch for hawks
Hitchcock Nature Center has several annual events to keep track of on your calendar. One of the big ones is the HawkWatch, which is held from September to December. Hitchcock is naturally situated on the migration path of several types of raptors, and from the park’s tower, you can help researchers by recording the hawks you see as the pass by.
Monarch tracking is a similar helpful activity, in the participants help catch and band monarchs so they can be tracked on their migration.
Other activities coincide with holidays, or are unique hikes like a night hikes. Monarch tracking, night hikes and other special events require pre-registration.
2. Hitchcock Nature Center, 27792 Ski Hill Loop, Honey Creek
Give goat yoga a try at Honey Creek Creamery. It’s less of a workout than a chance to cuddle a kid, and it’s pretty popular. Bring your prone because you’ll want to take pictures.
(It’s so memorable, it’s one of the 101 Things You Gotta Do In Iowa)
After our “workout,” we got a sample of the goat gelato made from the milk of some of the other goats on the farm.
Reservations need to be made in advance.
2. Honey Creek Creamery, 25593 Old Lincoln Highway, Honey Creek
Try some goat gelato
You don’t have to sit through a yoga session to get gelato. Stanley’s Shack is next door to Honey Creek Creamery. The seasonal little restaurant sells burgers and gelatos.
The day we visited, they also happened to be having goat milking demonstrations. So each of us tried our hand at it.
3. Stanley’s Shack, 18057 Mahogany Road, Honey Creek
Ski in the winter
In the winter, Mount Crescent Ski is home to the only downhill skiing hills near the Omaha metro area. The Loess Hills are surprisingly good terrain for skiing, though adjust your expectations. This is Iowa, not Colorado.
The resort also has a tubing hill.
FYI: Prior to the pandemic, Mount Crescent also ran a zipline run in the summer. The ride started with a ski lift ride followed by a 1,600-foot-high flying zip (the length of five football fields). Time will tell if that ever returns!
4. Mount Crescent Ski, 17026 Snowhill Lane, Honey Creek
Hike in snowshoes
While I’m thinking about winter, Hitchcock Nature Center rents out snowshoes for adults and kids. The quiet setting of the park in winter is other-worldly.
5. Hitchcock Nature Center, 27792 Ski Hill Loop, Honey Creek
Toboggan like a maniac
I’ll be the first to say it: I’m not a fan of “The Chute” in the winter. But kids and speed demons love it, so they head to Hitchcock Nature Center with their sleds after a good snowfall.
6. Hitchcock Nature Center, 27792 Ski Hill Loop, Honey Creek
Collect a stamp on the Loess Hills Passport
The Living Loess Tour is a self-guided tour around southwest Iowa. It’s been put on hold since 2019 because of the pandemic but I’m looking forward to the day when we can visit some of the artisans and scenic places once more to collect a stamp on my Living Loess Passport.
Both Hitchcock Nature Center and Honey Creek Creamery are stops on the tour.
7. Hitchcock Nature Center, 27792 Ski Hill Loop, and Honey Creek Creamery, 25593 Old Lincoln Highway, Honey Creek
Cruise a scenic byway
Honey Creek is near a couple routes along some of Iowa’s most scenic byways, especially the Loess Hills National Scenic Byway. It runs north and south and nearly parallel to Interstate 29 (but obviously way more scenic).
It’s also not too far away from a portion of the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway.
8. Loess Hills National Scenic Byway
Where to stay in Honey Creek
Having a population just over 1,000, you can understand how there aren’t a lot of overnight accommodations in Honey Creek. I’ve known friends who’ve camped at Hitchcock Nature Center. If you want to get away from others, there are seven backcountry campsites.
Hitchcock also has a couple of cabins available for rent, RV spots, and modern tent camping.
If you’re looking for hotels, I recommend staying in Council Bluffs, a city located 15 miles south of Honey Creek.