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natural resources & recreation
Ottumwa Park . The park itself was once a thriving business district , but the flood damage led to buyouts and the area ’ s demolition .
The highest flood was in 1993 , when it hit 22.15 feet in Ottumwa . More recent flooding in 2008 and 2010 also cracked the top 10 crests for the river . Forecasts in 2019 predicted a top-10 crest , but it topped out at just over 16 feet .
Trout fishing
Ottumwa doesn ’ t have any trout streams or spots where the fish naturally live . But each spring and fall the area becomes one of the hottest trout fishing locations in the state .
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources runs a number of “ urban trout fisheries .” The sites are chosen for their ability to sustain trout populations for at least a couple months , allowing people an opportunity to fish for trout close to home .
In Ottumwa , that ’ s in Ottumwa Park . Twice per year , usually in March and October , the state brings in 1,000-2,000 trout .
The events have become very popular in Ottumwa , drawing crowds that usually have lines in the water well before the truck with the trout shows up .
Officials with the IDNR have called Ottumwa a near-ideal location for the stocking events , with easy access and a comparatively deep pond . The deepest part is 15 feet , and since it ’ s spring-fed , the water stays colder longer .
The schedule for trout stocking is on the Iowa Department of Natural Resources website , under its information on trout fishing . Anyone who fishes will need an
Iowa fishing license as well as a trout stamp .
Historic Hills Scenic Byway
The Historic Hills Scenic Byway is one of the most picturesque drives in southeast Iowa . At 110 miles , it ’ s long enough to be savored but short enough to complete in a single day .
The byway has two branches at its western end : north of Blakesburg on Highway 34 at the border of Wapello and Monroe counties and at Moravia in Appanoose County . The branches merge at Drakesville . From there the route travels through Bloomfield , the villages of Van Buren County and ends at Donnellson in southeastern Iowa .
There are several points of particular historical interest along the route . The state ’ s oldest courthouse that remains in use is in Keosauqua . The route also passes the state ’ s only Civil War battleground , a log cabin that dates to the 1850s and landmarks on the Mormon Pioneer Trail , which traces the group ’ s passage west to Salt Lake City .
Three state parks and Iowa ’ s only destination resort ( Honey Creek ) are also close by the trail , offering opportunities to stop and enjoy the natural beauty of southeast Iowa .
Cars are probably not going to be the only vehicles people see on the byway . Both Mennonite and Old Order Amish communities flourish in southeast Iowa . The Drakesville and Bloomfield areas in particular are home to those groups and several businesses community members run .
Much of the byway also weaves around the Des Moines River , so people can take advantage of access points to fish , canoe and kayak .
A roundup of sites along the byway and a list of the communities it passes through can be found at http :// www . traveliowa . com / aspx / trails . aspx ? id = 7 .
Also nearby
Lake Wapello
Lake Wapello is located at 15248
Campground Road in Drakesville . The park is 1,150 acres of wooded hillsides , shaded picnic areas and a 289-acre lake . Fishing , canoeing , kayaking and pleasure cruising are enjoyed on the Davis County lake about 30 minutes south of Ottumwa .
Lake Shore Trail is seven miles of trail that will take hikers around the lake and through the park . Cross-country skiing is popular in winter months , and several areas are designated for this activity . The park also offers multi-use trails for hiking and snowmobiling . A nature trail is located on the north side of the park .
Lake Wapello has sand beaches and the largest beach house facility in Iowa ’ s state park system . The beach offers opportunities for swimming and sunbathing , but lifeguards are not on duty at the lake .
The lake itself is a 289-acre no-wake lake . Bluegill , redear sunfish , crappie and channel catfish are available for the taking . Bass fishing is allowed for catch and release only .
The park has three open picnic shelters . Two of those may be reserved online . Electric and nonelectric camping sites are available with modern shower and restroom facilities . The park also has a trailer dump station .
Fourteen cedar-sided family cabins are available for rent August through October . Each will accommodate four people . They may be reserved online at http :// lakewapello . org . Call 641-722-3371 for more information .
Rathbun Lake and Honey Creek
Rathbun Lake , located in Appanoose County , is one of the most beautiful locations in southeast Iowa and home to
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