What? A road trip to National Parks and one of the journal entries you see is "Iowa?" What gives? Well, on our first trip out west we missed Iowa. It was the only mid-western state we missed. We simply couldn't fit it in without a lot of time out of our way and we had limited time (just a month on that trip). Folks that had been there told us it was just like the other states so we should cross it off anyway... we weren't expecting much... and certainly weren't expecting what we found.
Iowa is pretty!!! And no, it's NOT just like the other states - at least - not from our experience. We entered from the Southeast - at Davenport - drove to/through Cedar Rapids via highway, then went off highway taking mostly Rt 218. It's amazing how many times one gets to cross the Cedar River on that route! So while we only saw mostly Eastern & Northeastern Iowa, what we saw was pleasant to the eyes. There were pretty rolling hills and farmland - and not all this farmland was irrigated (as is the norm in the west). We saw small towns and while some definitely could use economic revival, all the people we met were extremely friendly. In all, the natural green scenery, rolling hills, and ruralness made us fall in love with this state and we regretted that we had only allotted time to just drive through it - spending only one night.
Iowa reminds us of our chosen home area of South Central PA - without the crowds that are moving in here - and without the mountains (highest point in the state is only 1670'). If we were looking to relocate our home base from PA, Iowa actually ranks up in the top two of places we'd seriously consider (HI being the other one). Remember on this that we love rural though - if you like cities and "people" things... your opinion on relocating might be different.
For a visit, if you're looking for a rural experience on a vacation - even if just some "slow time" en route to unwind - Iowa certainly should be worth considering. The welcome center we visited had plenty of smaller attractions to visit (we wished we could have) - and the state park we camped at was really nice (one of the best campgrounds on the trip - esp for the $11 price - see journal entry for more on that). All in all, with what we were told/expecting vs what we found - we thought a journal entry letting others know that Iowa might indeed be worth a look was in line...