Corn Fields & Waterfalls: The Unexpected Midwest

Wilderness Badass Ambassador 

@erinhansen48

Hiking in the Midwest tends get a bad rap, or at least from those who don’t live here. (Lets face it, people who live here as well). To be honest, quite a bit of the Midwest Is farmland and pretty corn dominated, but that is not all you will find. There are some pretty insane and unique places in the Midwest, you just have to know where to find them… I have done some pretty crazy researching to find all these places and I feel it will be a long time before I get through all of the places I want to visit. Bluffs are probably one of the biggest things in the Midwest, no we are not all flat chested here in the Midwest. But you will find plenty of cliffs, caves, grasslands, waterfalls, lakes, forests, and prairies to explore. Below you will find a list of some of the steps & resources I have used to find some pretty cool places. And if you're every traveling through, or just happen to live here, you've got no excuse to finding some legendary adventures. 

(Pretty sure these could be used anywhere in the U.S. and you might find some amazing hidden finds with these!)

  • Regular old maps. Topographic maps to be exact. 
  • Use the old maps and a protractor to average out where you are and how far you are willing to go. (Call me old fashioned.)
  • Google of course. (using words like unique, backpacking, hidden, etc)
  • Instagram (One of my most used) – I have found that I get lost in looking at other Midwesterners pages and then start clicking on the locations of the photos.
  • Connections (connecting with fellow hikers, joining groups, using social media to ask around about places.)
  • Atlas & map booklets (I personally use the DeLorme State specific maps) These can be found in local stores or online.
  • EXPLORE! Just start driving. Roll the windows down (if its not a billion degrees below zero) blast some music and look like a total dork jamming to some oldies. Drive until you see something that remotely looks like a Park or sign and stop. (But don’t trespass)

I cannot explain how many times I have done this and found some pretty cool hidden gems.

Here are my top three:

1. Tettegouche State Park in Minnesota!

2. Garden of the Gods in Southern Illinois

3. Maquoketa Caves in Iowa! 

Overall, I promise you that the Midwest has some pretty amazing places to explore. Some are so unique to the point that they are like nowhere else I have been. I enjoy the diversity of things we have here. People always say my Instagram is so unique and contains such a diversity of places on it. I would say 70% of my posts are all places in the Midwest. I love to travel outside of the Midwest but the Midwest will always be home for me.

If you're in the area and need more ideas, just hit me up.

Check out these places on my gram: @erinhansen48