The most beautiful and best Iowa Park may be found in your corner of the state claims Sally Ortgies, the “Iowa Park Lady.” Ortgies has visited all Iowa state parks and has seen every corner of Iowa and knows better than anyone the beauty it offers. She has recommendations in your part of the state.
The Best Iowa Parks
Ortgies, a retired parks and recreation professional, shared her extensive experience and insights into Iowa’s state and county parks. She has 34 years of service with West Des Moines Parks and Recreation under her belt and began her state park journey in the fall of 2019. Initially, her goal was to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Iowa’s state park system in happening in 2020. However, the COVID-19 pandemic turned her journey into a much-needed escape. “Our sanity depended upon these weekend trips to state parks,” Ortgies stated, emphasizing the therapeutic value of nature during lockdowns.
Ortgies also highlighted the geographical diversity of Iowa, dispelling the common misconception that the state is merely flat farmland. She pointed out unique features in all four corners of the state, from the Driftless region in the northeast, untouched by glaciers, to the Loess Hills in the southwest, a unique geological formation found only in Iowa and China. “It is so diverse. You know, someone might look at it and say, Oh, it’s just a bunch of grass. Well, you know, there can be hundreds of species all in that one area,” she said.
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Moreover, Ortgies told of the overall transformation of the state. Today, 97% of Iowa’s landscape has been changed due to agriculture. She noted that only a fraction of native Tallgrass Prairie remains, urging Iowans to treasure the dwindling natural spaces we have left. “I want to help people realize that these places exist in our state, even though you have to look for them, and that we should really treasure them,” she passionately concluded.
What’s next for The Iowa Park Lady?
What’s next for Iowa Park Lady, Sally Ortgies? Her current mission is ambitious: to visit all 1,850 county parks in Iowa. Despite the enormity of the task, Ortgies remains committed to her goal, seeing it as a lifetime project that will help showcase the state’s hidden natural gems. Her dedication to Iowa’s parks is not just a personal quest but a public service, educating Iowans about the natural beauty that exists right in their backyard.