Hello everyone! Katey here - I wanted to share my pictures and adventures from my day last week exploring a local conservation site - Jester Park in Granger, Iowa.
My adventure was fuelled by our latest social media happy hour where Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation's Communications Director, Joe Jayjack was our special guest. Before our interview with Joe, we challenged ourselves to find some of INHF's current projects which included Jester Park.
I have to say that I was really surprised by the size of this park! It not only has beautiful views and parks, but also a campground, golf course, event spaces, an interactive educational nature center, and BISON AND ELK.
The viewing site for the bison and elk includes an awesome deck that overlooks their compound, and also has an educational park for kids to run and around and explore. This wire fence is the boundary seen from the road nearby.
The quality of these photos doesn't do this building justice. This is the event lodge located within the park and it looks out over the lake. The building was locked, but I walked around and was able to see the back deck (AMAZING) and peak inside through the wall of windows that overlooks the deck. What an awesome venue.
The camp sites in the park just made me swoon. There's a main campground that's closer to the park entrance (this is where I found the semi-hidden amphitheater that you'll see next) and also some portion of campsites that are right along the water. If you keep driving into the park though, you'll find these amazing primitive sites that look out over a small cliff towards the water. I sat out here for a bit because the breeze off the lake was just magical, and the isolation of the park from real world sounds means tons of birds and rustling branches (my favorite kind of white noise). The park also has a line of cabins that are closer to the bison/elk prairie. All camping reservations can be made here.
I was the most excited to find this hidden away within the campground. This outdoor amphitheater sits up against a line of woods that is a hop-a-skip-and-a-jump from the water. Outdoor performance venues like this are EXACTLY what we're looking for in our quest to perform in non-traditional spaces. We're hoping that next summer (2021) we may have a concert series geared towards these types of venues.
This view was the highlight of my day. This body of water is Saylorville Lake, which stretches for over 50 miles up the Des Moines River Valley. The breeze off the water keeps the bugs at bay, and provides a feeling of serenity that can only be achieved when sitting quietly outdoors.