Within 15 minutes of Decorah, travelers can enjoy a fresh-air country experience camping alongside the Upper Iowa River. Or they can come just for the day to head out on horseback or to paddle the river currents below scenic bluffs.
From their working farm, the Hutchinsons rent kayaks for $25 a day and canoes for $35 a day, shuttle service included. After drop-offs for two-, four- or six-hour trips, guests paddle and float downstream back to the landing at the family campground. The most picturesque sections of the journey are just outside Bluffton. As the river bustles around bends, towering bluffs come into view before giving way to wooded banks, serene stretches of clear water and patches of wildflowers. There are a few tricky shallows where it’s easy to get beached on the pebbles. Otherwise, expect a smooth-flowing ride through quiet waters.
Keep an eye out for eagles, hawks and blue herons, and watch for turtles sunning on the riverbanks. To extend the adventure, visitors can rent campsites for $10 to $15, or cabins for $50 to $125 a night (one sleeps four; the other accommodates six to eight).