Summer Vacation 2023: Wildcat Den State Park

Good morning! I've got my cup of coffee (just like the good old days) and I've been editing photos for the long-delayed final posts from my Summer 2023 vacation. As you know from the previous posts in this series, the kids and I spent the tail end of my vacation in Eastern Iowa. When I proposed to the kids a trip to Eastern Iowa they were like, "What's in Eastern Iowa?" While I'm sure you'd think that, too, trust me when I say that Eastern Iowa is a gorgeous and pleasant surprise for anyone who's not been there before. Western Iowa has the majestic beauty of the Loess Hills and the mighty Missouri River, but Eastern Iowa has its majestic cliffs, rock formations, and the even mightier Mississippi River.

On the third day of our four days out there, we made a trip to Wildcat Den State Park. It was incredibly difficult to pick a small amount of the numerous and fantastic photos I took, so I included as many as I dared. Enjoy!

Right inside the entrance is an old school, so we checked that out first.

School's back in session for these two.

Right down the sidewalk from the school is the Pine Creek Gristmill which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

We started on the main floor, obviously, which has a lot of museum-type pieces scattered amongst the intact mill workings.

This mill ground various grains into flour.

This neat illustration describes the process of turning grain into flour.

Looking out one of the old windows gives you a view of Pine Creek - the driving force behind the Mill's power.

You can ascend these stairs to the second floor.

And yet another set of stairs takes you to the third floor of the Mill.

This is a diagram of how the Mill was set up inside.

The third-floor windows were home to some bats (and spiders, too). We also visited the basement after we went back down to the first floor.

We then left the Mill to hit the trails for some beautiful nature.

While not quite as impressive as our time at Maquoketa Caves, it was still impressive nonetheless.

My daughter stands at a wooden overlook into the heart of the park.

The caves weren't as massive as Maquoketa, but they were still amazing. Since we were there at the end of June/beginning of July, everything was so verdant and green.

Frank Roth wanted you all to know he was here on August 15th of 1890. I had to take a photo of it.

So beautiful!

Can you see why it was so hard to choose the photos for this post?

There were many of these footbridges crossing the creek that meanders through the park.

This was the biggest "cave" we saw on our hike.

Kids for perspective.

Man, I could put a house right here and look at this view all day.

After our hike, we begrudgingly left but drowned our sadness in a picnic lunch before heading down the road to the Old Stone Church.

That's Wildcat Den SP in the background.

While we couldn't go in, there were a few signs that talked about the history of the church.

As you can see, Eastern Iowa is nothing to scoff at. Its natural beauty would wow any nature lover. We sure enjoyed our time admiring it.

There's still one more post in this series, which I will get out next weekend. It's a post about our time in Davenport, a fun excursion we did at the campsite, and a few places to have a drink or two. Until then, I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

- H.A.



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