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Break through the winter doldrums

The Amana Colonies Winterfest on Jan. 23 will featured old-fashioned ice-sawing demonstrations, as well as scavenger hunts and a winter 5K run/walk. photo courtesy of the Iowa Travel Office
The weather outside may be frightful, but that’s no reason to stay by the fire indefinitely. Iowa offers a variety of great winter activities — appealing to those interested in fitness as well as those who want to get out and get involved.

Guided snowshoe or winter hike, Hitchcock Nature Center, Honey Creek, Jan. 9 and Feb. 6: Join the Pottawattamie conservation staff for a snowshoeing adventure through the beautiful Loess Hills at Hitchcock Nature Center. This workshop is designed for participants 12 years of age and older. Cost is $5 per person and includes a guided hike, refreshments and the use of snowshoes during the guided hike. If there is not enough snow, a winter hike will take place if trail conditions allow.

Pre-register by Jan. 8, as space is limited. Email rene.stroud@pottcounty-ia.gov or call  712-242-1197.

32nd annual Clinton Eagle Watch, Clinton Community College, Jan. 9: A full day of eagle watching, exhibits and educational programs awaits. A free bus ride to Lock #13 in Fulton lets your view the eagles in their natural habitat. Back at Clinton Community College, lectures, videos, stories and live birds of prey are available, as well as a bald eagle photo contest. Go to www.missriver.org or call 815-259-3628.

Annual Ice Fishing Derby, Mason City, Jan. 16: Take the kids or grandkids ice fishing! The Iowa Department of Natural Resources will be stocking rainbow trout at Lester Milligan Park at 11:30 a.m. and then fish until 1:30 p.m. The event is free, but all anglers must be properly licensed. Participants are encouraged to bring their own ice fishing gear, but a limited number of poles and tackle will be available. Pre-registration encouraged. Call 641-421-3673.

Winterfest, Amana Colonies, Jan. 23: You name it, they’ve got it at Winterfest — a 5K run/walk, candy-making demonstrations, log sawing competitions, scavenger hunts, a Winterfest Ice Princess and hammerschlagen (you’ll have to show up to find out what this is). Perfect for all ages.

For more information, go to www.festivalsinamana/winterfest or call 800-579-2294.

Coralville WinterFest, Coralville, Jan. 24: Just off Interstate 80, Coralville’s WinterFest includes balloon creations, an indoor snowball fight, horse-drawn trolley rides, professional ice sculpting, and much more. Frosty fun for all ages—and a great way to use up some of the kids’ pent-up energy! For more info, go to www.coralville.org or call 319-248-1750.

Owl Prowl Night Hike, Hitchcock Nature Center, Honey Creek, Feb. 5: Whooooo wants to know more about owls? If you do, join the staff at the Hitchcock Nature Center in the Loess Hills on a night hike to learn more about these fascinating creatures. This evening hike will introduce visitors to the common owls of Iowa and include owl calling along the trail. Bundle up and bring a sense of adventure!

Cost is $4 per person. For more information, contact  tina.popson@pottcounty-ia.gov or call 712-545-3283.

Bald Eagle Watch and Expo, North Liberty, Feb. 6: Celebrate America’s national symbol at this free event, which includes exhibitions, activities, and guest speakers. Indoor activities take place at North Central Junior High in North Liberty; an outdoor venue will be set up at the Tailwater West Recreation Area below the dam at Coralville Lake.

For more info, email Coralville.lake@usace.army.mil or call 319-338-3543.

Living History Farms historic dinners, Urbandale, various dates throughout the winter: There are still spots left for a historic dinner at Living History Farms. Choose from a rustic meal in the 1900 Farmhouse, or a Victorian dinner at the Flynn Mansion. The 1900 Farmhouse meal includes a horse-drawn wagon ride and tour of the barns.

For more info, go to www.lhf.org (under programs and events) or call 515-278-5286.

Van Kooten is a freelance writer from Pella.