In far northwest Iowa, just south of the Iowa-Minnesota border, you can exit Highway 60 and visit the site of the former Sterler Family Farm. What's so special about this particular spot?
It's the spot that has been determined to have the highest elevation within our state's borders. Since we're the Hawkeye State, this site has been appropriately dubbed Hawkeye Point and it is has been turned into a legitimate tourist spot with a variety of different amenities.
Hawkeye Point is about a half hour from my family's farm. However, until this past summer, I had never visited. I was overdue. If you are traveling north from Sibley on four-lane Highway 60, there will be an exit that alerts you to this landmark. I'm not sure if there is a similar sign when you are heading south from the Minnesota border.
You take the exit and go just a little bit off the highway onto a gravel road. Soon, you are greeted by a sign that is hard to miss.
You then head up the driveway toward the silo and flag pole. There's plenty of space nearby to park your car.
Once there, you will find what you are looking for.
Near a flag pole that contains both an American and Iowa flag, there is a round, slightly elevated circle that marks the spot - the highest point in Iowa.
Getting your photo with your feet on the highest point is a popular thing to do.
There's a few other monuments and markers nearby.
The spot is surrounded by farm fields though there is some restored prairie grass as well.
It's close enough off of the highway that you can see the traffic from the marker.
A wooden observation deck has been added to the nearby silo.
The observation deck was completed by local 4-H and FFA students with assistance from other local civic groups.
The views from the deck, while not significantly higher than if you are standing on the ground, are quite lovely.
A bench is available for seating on the deck. It has been furnished by the Highpointers Foundation, an organization that celebrates and promotes each of the 50 high points (one per state) in our country.
If you would prefer not to stand on the observation deck, you can instead picnic underneath it.
Surrounding the circle are poles with mileage signs letting you know how many miles away you are from the high points in other states.
There's a double-sided sign with a roof near the marker that has some information on one side and license plates from various states on the other.
In addition to the map and suggestions of other things to visit (such as this two headed calf!), there's also a guest book to sign.
I thumbed through it a little and saw people from all over the world!
As I noted previously, they have done a nice job of turning this site into a multi-faceted tourist stop. If you are interested in antique farm machinery, there is a walk through display.
Each implement has a nice sign providing more information.
There's also an old corn crib that is now a walk-through museum with information about agriculture.
If you like barn quilts, this building has a beautiful one.
As was the case with the observation deck, the building has been fixed up by local 4-Hers and FFA students.
Both walls of the inside of the corn crib have information about agricultural history.
There's a "Wall of Recognition" which notes various individuals, families, dignitaries, and organizations that helped make this happen.
Governor Kim Reynolds (then - Lt. Governor) stopped by in 2011.
There's also information about the history of this location, including the initial donation of land by the Sterler family. The whole success story is quite a testament to the cooperation of various local entities working together.
I applaud the Osceola County Conservation Board for putting in a selfie stand. People want to show off where they've been so you might as well make it easier for them to do so. Not to mention, every Facebook post and Instagram share gives your locations more visibility.
There's also a photo board where you can stick your face through. The man and woman with missing faces are of course from the American Gothic painting.
If you are into camping, a campground has been added across the road (and a little to the west). You can tell all of your friends and family that you camped at the highest point in Iowa!
I'm not the camping type, but I am guessing these rates are relatively competitive.
There's ample shade and trees as well as a modern restroom facility.
I found a picnic shelter and some playground equipment.
On the day I visited (last summer), there were a few campers utilizing the space.
Across the road from the campground (and directly to the west of the Hawkeye Point site), there's a solar facility operated by Osceola Electric Cooperative.
As a proud northwest Iowan, I am delighted to see that this project has blossomed into what it has. It's the kind of stop where you can spend just a couple of minutes or a couple of days (if you are planning to camp that long). We already know that Iowa is the top state in the union, so why not head to the highest point of the highest ranked state? It seems like a no-brainer to me!
As always, I welcome your suggestions of places to visit and profile whether in Osceola County or any of the other 98 counties in Iowa. If you have a good idea or would like to host the Iowa Adventurer, please drop me a note through this site.