by Dylan Sanders

Here in Prairie City and Monroe, Iowa, we are very privileged. We are privileged because we can drive under five miles and find ourselves with an abundance of activities to do. I’m not referring to the modern traditions that people enjoy doing like going bowling, visiting theme parks or going into town to watch the next blockbuster movie. I’m talking about the traditional activities like hiking, fishing, hunting and swimming.

In Iowa it is possible to do any of these activities during any season. Spring is great for fishing, hiking, sight-seeing and morel mushroom hunting. Summer is great for fishing, swimming, hiking, scenery viewing and certain types of hunting. Fall, my favorite season, is mainly known for its hunting. Fall is when all the hunting seasons open. Fall can be great fishing and hiking weather, too. Fall usually has lower temperatures, so it is possible to go on longer hikes. Winter seems to be the least favorite of seasons. That shouldn’t stop anyone from going out and having fun. Some activities to do in winter include sledding, ice fishing or cross-country skiing. In a big city like Chicago, a person would have to drive 20 or more miles to do most of these activities.

Iowa has a unique balance of country and city life, and Prairie City represents that well. We also aren’t far from a semi large city. Des Moines is the most populated city in Iowa, and there are a lot of activities that you can do in it. Another great aspect is the Neal Smith National Wildlife refuge. There are buffalo, elk, pheasants and many more critters that thrive on the prairie. In elementary school, we always took at least two trips to the prairie each year. The field trips would give students a break from school, and they would give the students an opportunity to learn about the landscape and the creatures that lived on it. Hopefully those field trips motivated the students to keep the prairie and its animals around for future generations to see.

We also live about 30 minutes from one of the largest lakes in Iowa: Lake Red Rock. It may not have the best beaches, or the best coloration of water. Red Rock may not be the most scenic, but it is still a great place to spend time on the shore fishing with your family and friends. Red Rock has given me some great memories over the years.

Great ways to learn about the outdoor opportunities in Iowa are to visit these websites: fhttp://www.iowadnr.gov/Fishing/Fishing-Licenses-Laws/Additional-Regulations/Fishing-Licenses, http://www.tallgrass.org/ and http://www.mvr.usace.army.mil/Missions/Recreation/Lake-Red-Rock/.