Lewis & Clark Scenic Byway and the Outlaw Trail
South Sioux City is the portal to two Nebraska Scenic Byways: The Lewis and Clark Scenic Byway and the Outlaw Trail.
In 1804, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark embarked on a journey that would become one of America’s most fabled expeditions. Part of that adventure would take them up the Missouri River and along the eastern and northern border of present-day Dakota County.
Today, you can travel that same pathway by taking the Lewis and Clark and Outlaw Trail Scenic Byways. It is a pathway on which history and beauty happily collide to deliver an inspiring journey through time. The route will take you through wooded bluffs that overlook the majestic Missouri River as it snakes its way through fertile farmland. Along the way, catch a glimpse of waterfowl and bison as they thrive on the area’s natural resources. Share the path where trappers, traders and American Indians once lived and traveled.
Discover a large bison herd roaming the grassy plains of the Winnebago Reservations.
Travel West on Highway 12 and discover a picturesque journey through breathtaking and divers Nebraska landscapes. Known as “Nebraska Everglades,” you’ll marvel at the unusual biological diversity. Great vistas encompass clear blue sky, native stands of oak trees dot the skyline. Diverse geological features such as vast, flat bottomlands and wetlands give way to bluffs and the State’s largest waterfall. View cottonwood forests, pine and cedar forests, open prairie, lush cropland and abundant wildlife.
Along the way, you’ll find literally hundreds of entertaining stops, of historical significance, with a wide variety of recreational, educational and just plain fun things to see and do.
Loess Hills Scenic Byway
The Loess Hills Scenic Byway traverses internationally distinctive landforms as it follows the Missouri River Valley in Western Iowa, taking you through some of the most interesting country in the Midwest. Thousands of years ago, active glaciers covered much of the northern United States. When these glaciers melted, they left fine silt particles that formed a yellow soil called loess (pronounced “luss”). Strong windstorms deposited layers of loess several hundred feet thick on both sides of the Missouri River Valley, molding the soft soil into sheer ridges and rippled hills. Only two places in the world have such extensive loess layers: the Yellow River Valley of China and the Loess Hills of Western Iowa.
If you’d like to see the Loess Hills the way the Pioneers and native people might have seen them, visit Five Ridge Prairie, where several trails head deep into undeveloped country. Hike past fields of wildflowers and through burr oak forests to the top of the 200-foot ridge, where you can see miles of green-gold prairie stretch out before you. You can tackle the slopes on your mountain bike for a faster trip, or if you want to spend more time on the prairie, Preparation Canyon and other State Parks feature several hike-in campsites.
Many other travelers have lived off the land in the Loess Hills, following the valley westward toward a brighter future. At the Western Historic Trails Center in Council Bluffs, you can learn the history of the trails that cross the Loess Hills. Relive the first westward exploration along the Lewis and Clark Trail, or experience the desire for freedom and prosperity that drove more permanent Pioneers along the Oregon, California and Mormon Trails. Stop by the Harrison County Historical Village to learn about and see some of the sites and structures that were a part of their lives. Drive the Loess Hills Scenic Byway and experience Iowa trail life.