Turkey River Safari

Erin Dittmer, left, Conner Casper, center, and Brooklyn Casper, right, do a crayon rubbing at a post in the butterfly garden at Founders Park, Elkader. The garden is one of 20 stops in the Turkey River Safari.

Here’s a cure for the “I’m bored—there’s nothing to do” summertime blues. The folks at the Turkey River Recreational Corridor (TRRC) along with a long list of sponsors is offering their second annual self-paced outdoor adventure that encourages families to explore 20 different stops along the Turkey River.

The Turkey River Safari launched Memorial Day and continues through Labor Day. Free safari kits are available at area libraries as well as Osborne Nature Center. Each kit includes a 48-page guidebook, crayons, large map and an activity book with road games, maps and coloring pages.

The 20 sites—10 in Clayton County and 10 in Fayette County—can be visited in any order. Many are accessible on foot or by bike, though most require some driving. At each site, there’s a three-foot high post with a small hard plastic plague with a raised image. Using the crayons provided with the kit, participants make a rubbing of the image within the designated space in the guidebook. For example, page 22 offers historical information on the Clayton County Court House and on page 23, there’s space for a rubbing from that site.

Other sites included in this year’s safari are: Garber, Elkport, Osborne and Founders Parks; Motor Mill; Pony Hollow Trail and Elgin Trail Heads; Big Springs Trout Hatchery; Ten Mile Bridge; Gilbertson, Valley and Turkey River Canoe Launches; Union Sunday School, Larrabee School, West Union Rec Center, Volga River Recreation Area, Upper Iowa University; and St. Lucas Historical Society.

According to TRRC Program Director Robin Bostrom, the primary criterion for each site was 24-hour accessibility.

Last year, 300 safari kits were distributed and about 400 people participated. Though the same number of kits is available this year, Bostrom hopes the participation numbers will increase.

“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback,” she said. “Folks said they’d explored places they didn’t even know existed. Several said they visited placed they never even knew existed or learned something new about the history of a familiar place.”

Bostrom described the Turkey River Safari as an “opportunity to be a tourist in your own backyard.”

Given the positive reaction to the safari program, Bostrom is almost certain it will be offered again in 2014.

An Iowa Great Place, the TRRC is unique in its geographic size and potential. Several communities in Clayton and Fayette Counties are linked by the special scenic beauty of the corridor and a shared mission to develop and enhance the existing natural resource base of the TRRC through the creation of land and water trails. For more on the TRRC, visit the organization’s website: www.turkeyrovercorridor.com.

By Pam Reinig, Register Editor

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