Our Girls Adventure took us new heights when we went to Little Storm Lake Discovery Center and Boardwalk . This fun area is located on 85th Avenue in Storm Lake, Iowa near Highway 110. This hidden gem can be hard to spot, so be sure to keep your eyes out for the sign.
The area includes a short walking path, a two-story observation tower, and boardwalk into the marsh. Signs along the path and boardwalk share tidbits of information about the area. Although the area is small, it allowed for lots of fun with my two adventurers.
We first explored the area a year ago and had fun climbing to the top of the observation tower, or as my girls called it, ‘tree house.’ In the winter, the tower could be spotted from the road through the bare trees. Once it disappeared in the foliage, the girls started asking to go back. This time it was part of a long-awaited Girls Adventure.
We picked a warm, but not too hot, day for our adventure and packed a lunch for an added perk. One lucky teddy bear somehow got stowed away in our car and was along for the adventure too! The girls were excited for our hike and picnic. The hike, while very short, was lots of fun. The big trees made us feel like we were in a forest and not near a highway. We looked at the plants and trees and tried identifying a few of them (I’m afraid I’m not nearly as good at that as my mom was when I use to go for walks with her-I’m bound to get poison ivy someday).
Around the bend was our destination. The girls ran the rest of the way to the ‘tree house’ and excitedly climbed to the top. Before I could make my way to the girls, they had the blanket ready for the picnic and were checking out the area with the viewing scope at the top of the tower. It took me a little longer to get there; for some reason I ended up with our lunches and the stowaway bear!
We enjoyed our picnic in the clouds. One of my girls even said eating at the ‘tree house’ was better than eating at a restaurant! I have to say, I agree. Where else in the area can you have rooftop seating and a great view?! The birds and animals got quite a few crumbs that day too, so I’d say it was a win-win for a lot of us!
The breeze through the trees kept us cool and kept the bugs away (you’ll want to bring bug spray if it is a less windy day or if you head out there in the evening). We watched the clouds above us change formations and named the different sounds we heard. We talked about what we might see in the marsh before we made our way down the steps to check it out ourselves.
Cattails surrounded the boardwalk into the marsh. Some towered above my head, so I can only imagine what it was like for the girls to walk through the path. By the time we were to the middle of the boardwalk, it seemed like we were in a sea of cattails. We could hear an occasional bullfrog croak and watched red-winged black birds fly through the grasses.
Just as we were about to read a sign about area fish one of my girls let out a loud shriek and clung to my leg. Once I saw what she saw, I also let out a scream and quickly jumped up and down (I’m not ashamed to admit that I was not brave in this moment). Soon all of us were jumping up and down and screaming. A snake had come up through a hole in the boardwalk, looked at us, and went down another. Although we hadn’t made it to the end of the boardwalk, instinct told us to run to land. So, that’s what we did. Cattail leaves tickled our legs and arms adding to the scare factor. With hearts beating fast, we all erupted into laughter as we tried to catch our breaths once on land. I am so glad no one else was there to witness all our excitement!
I couldn’t talk my girls into getting back on the boardwalk, so we explored an old structure someone had built from downed tree limbs before heading back to the car. My girls walked hand-in-hand down the rocky path talking about the fun we had and how mom ‘screamed like a girl’ on our Girls Adventure.
If you’re in the area, I highly recommend you check out the Little Storm Lake Discovery Center and Boardwalk. Snakes and all, it is such a fun place to explore. Don’t forget to bring your lunch to have your own picnic in the clouds!