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Beautiful Rest Stop Areas in Iowa ~ Amazing Harvest Theme Sculpture Artwork

Updated on November 1, 2016

Sculptures at the Wilton Rest Area & Welcome Center in Iowa

Sculptures by artist Tom Stancliffe at the Wilton Rest Area & Welcome Center in Iowa
Sculptures by artist Tom Stancliffe at the Wilton Rest Area & Welcome Center in Iowa | Source

Original Art Showcased at Iowa Rest Stops

There are probably some beautiful rest stops in other parts of the United States, but I can truthfully say that those along the Interstate highways in Iowa are some of the prettiest ones that I have ever seen.

They put the ones of which I am familiar in Texas to shame. As the old saying goes..."Everything is bigger and better in Texas."

Well...not so with regard to rest areas from my personal experience.

18 Million Drivers Visit Iowa Rest Areas

Rest Stops

Rest stops are important as people travel across the country for many reasons. In addition to being able to use the toilet facilities, often it is just nice to be able to pull off the road in a safe lighted area and stretch one's legs and get a little exercise.

Most rest stops have designated areas where truck drivers who do long distance hauling of supplies can park for a while and even take necessary sleep breaks.

In larger welcome centers, personnel may be on hand twenty-four hours a day to suggest tourist information for vacationers to their state who may be unfamiliar with what can be seen and enjoyed. Often there are maps and brochures which can be acquired.

Weather and road conditions can be accessed and they are kept updated frequently for traveler's convenience and safety concerns.

Vending machines are available in which travelers can find various forms of food and drinks.

And of course, picnic areas are most often provided...often with covers over them in case of inclement weather conditions.


Close-up photo of the corn topped sculpture

Close-up photo of the corn topped sculpture by Iowa artist Tom Stancliffe.
Close-up photo of the corn topped sculpture by Iowa artist Tom Stancliffe. | Source

Corn Corn Corn and More Corn in Iowa

Iowa Rest Stops

Okay...you might be thinking...our area has all of what was just mentioned. So what makes the Iowa rest stops unique?

It is the artwork!

The photos of the artwork featured in this post were taken at the Wilton Rest Area and Welcome Center between Davenport and Iowa City off of Interstate 80.

I took these photos long before I had ever thought of writing posts or blogs so they are limited to just these three pictures. If I were to ever travel in that part of the country again and stop at this particular rest stop and others, I would be sure to take many more photos!

My mother who was traveling with me was equally impressed with these ten stainless steel columns each topped with a different bronze form representing different aspects found in the State of Iowa.

The artist Tom Stancliffe who hails from that fair state created each of these plus one inside the building as well.

Who doesn't associate corn and Iowa? I think that when most people think of Iowa they also think of that crop and for good reason. Iowa is first in corn and also soybean production compared to all of the other 49 states in the U.S.

Source

Close up photo of the pig topped sculpture

Close up photo of the pig topped sculpture by Iowa artist Tom Stancliffe.
Close up photo of the pig topped sculpture by Iowa artist Tom Stancliffe. | Source

Iowa Pig Video

Pigs


Iowa also has more than its fair share of pigs.

As a matter of fact, more pork is produced in the State of Iowa than any other state in America accounting for about 40,000 jobs annually and billions of dollars to the state's economy.

Around twenty million pigs are raised annually.

Thus it is very appropriate that this pig sculpture was included as an example of things frequently seen in Iowa.


The other stainless steel columns were topped with the following art representations all of which can be found in Iowa:

  • Acorn
  • Prairie Grasses
  • Fish
  • Book
  • Cone Flower
  • Tractor Tire Track
  • Plow Shares
  • Bursting Seed Pod



Includes lyrics..."the corn is as high as an elephant's eye"...

Have you stopped at some of these beautiful Iowa rest stops?

See results

Another beautiful Iowa Rest Stop somewhere between Bettendorf, Iowa and on our way to Peoria, Illinois.

Another beautiful Iowa Rest Stop somewhere between Bettendorf, Iowa and on our way to Peoria, Illinois.
Another beautiful Iowa Rest Stop somewhere between Bettendorf, Iowa and on our way to Peoria, Illinois. | Source
After crossing the covered bridge one can climb up a tower to get an overview of the area.  Great rest stop in which to get a little exercise!
After crossing the covered bridge one can climb up a tower to get an overview of the area. Great rest stop in which to get a little exercise! | Source

In addition to the Harvest Theme Artwork seen at the Wilton Rest Area, other rest areas in Iowa have some of the following themes:


  • Pioneer Theme
  • Underground Railroad Theme
  • Educational Theme
  • Agriculture - Henry Wallace Theme
  • Lewis and Clark Expedition Theme
  • Mississippi River Theme


These and more rest stops are artistically created with the use of not only sculptures but mosaic tiles and other artwork making them not only utilitarian but also aesthetically pleasing to visitors who stop and use them.


The State of Iowa continues to demolish the older rest stops and as they build new replacements, art and artistic design is pushed to the forefront. What a wonderful image that creates for the state and how very nice for travelers who stop to use the facilities!



So if you find yourself traveling through the State of Iowa, be sure and check out some of these beautiful rest stop areas. I think that you will be amazed at what you find there!

"The Song of Iowa"

Location of the State of Iowa in the USA

A markerIowa -
Iowa, USA
get directions

If you enjoyed this article, please take time to give it your star rating. Thank you!!!

5 out of 5 stars from 7 ratings of Rest Stops in Iowa

© 2011 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed.

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    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 23 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Au fait,

      I still have relatives that live in Iowa as well as Illinois and Wisconsin. The Midwest is such a beautiful place to live when those fall leaves start turning. Your sister won't have too long a time to wait to see that annual spectacle! They really do have gorgeous rest stop areas in Iowa! As to the temps...we are enjoying cooler temps down here also. Nice time of year! Thanks for the share.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 23 months ago from North Texas

      Leaves should be turning in Iowa soon and that would make a trip through that state pretty spectacular along with the interesting rest-stop art you talk about in this excellent article. My sister in the Wausau WI area says their trees haven't even started to turn yet as of last Saturday. We are getting some cooler temps here in N. Texas at last! Sharing this again.

      Hope all is well with you . . .

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Au fait,

      So happy that you liked this hub enough to share. Thanks!

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      Came back to pin this to my 'Travel' board because I think this explains another benefit to traveling in Iowa. Also sharing again with my followers.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello LKMore01,

      Your comment is so true...that " It's not all about the destination but enjoying the journey." Sometimes it is the little things along the way that make for some great impressions. I'll admit that writing about Iowa rest stops is probably a bit out of the norm. Ha! Glad that you liked it. :)

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi truthfornow,

      I agree that it is nice when a rest stop area not only provides rest rooms and picnic tables but also goes a step beyond like the ones I have seen in Iowa. Those are truly special places in which to take a breather from riding in one's vehicle. Thanks for your comment.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Mary,

      The same here in Texas for the most part. The rest stops in Iowa are really special! So nice that they feature art and things relevant to that part of the country. Thanks for your votes and the share.

    • LKMore01 profile image

      LKMore01 4 years ago

      This is truly one of the most oringinal travel article ideas I've had the pleasure of reading, Peggy W. If you frequently travel long distance by car you will never take a rest stop for granted. You have given us one more reason to observe. It;s not all about the destination but enjoying the journey. Thanks for a great reading and visual experience.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi bridaletter,

      I know! This is not the usual subject regarding travel writing, but thought that these beautiful rest stops in Iowa were worth a mention. Thanks for your comment. :)

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Rajan,

      I have to admit that in traveling through quite a few of our states, I have never seen such an emphasis on beautifying the rest stop areas like they do in Iowa. It is nice to pull off the road and enjoy these peaceful respites from the traffic, etc. Thanks for your comment, rating, votes + share.

    • truthfornow profile image

      truthfornow 4 years ago from New Orleans, LA

      Those are some nice rest areas. I love the idea of making rest areas like art museums or parks. The ones in Louisiana are so drab and boring. You are going to have to stop and rest, so you might as well make it an enjoyable experience.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      I'm so glad I "found" this Hub. I really enjoyed reading about these rest stops in Iowa. We have lots of rest stops in Florida, but I don't think anyone has had the imagination of do any artwork for them. Too bad.

      Voted UP, etc. and will share.

    • bridalletter profile image

      Brenda Kyle 4 years ago from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA

      I enjoyed this perspective of travel writing. It is really interesting and I know I will check it out the next time I hit Iowa. Cute pigs too.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      These rest stops are really beautiful and unique. And the other 2 are in such naturally beautiful surroundings. Very relaxing and calming to both the mind and body.

      Voted up, beautiful and interesting. Rated 5 stars and shared.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Au fait,

      We were absolutely amazed at the beauty of these Iowa rest stops! Apparently as the older ones are being torn down, there will be others like these featuring local artist's work. It is wonderful! You are finding some of my older hubs which is great. Gives me a chance to go back in and do some editing. Have you written about your cornfield and houseboat experiences? Thanks for the 5 stars, votes and share.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      More beautiful photos!

      Having grown up in WI, I did get to Iowa a couple of times and I believe it was in July. OMG, there is nothing worse than being in close proximity to -- or worse (Yes there is something worse after all), actually being IN a corn field in July! It is unbearable. Also spent some time on a houseboat on the Mississippi River.

      Iowa didn't have the interesting rest stops back when I was there, but they look pretty cool. I think they would definitely add interest to a trip even if Iowa were just between Point A and Point B.

      Excellent hub as always, voted up, BI, and gave you 5 more stars. Will share!

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Suzie HQ,

      Lots of corn comes from Iowa with the possible exception of this year due to a drought. It is used to feed people and animals and quite a bit ends up as ethanol used as a gasoline additive. Their rest stops are amazing! Thanks for your comment, vote and the share.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Brett,

      Iowa does a really good job with their rest stops and as an artist I really appreciated all of the local artists that got to have their work showcased in such a manner. Thanks for your comment and especially the share.

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Peggy,

      What a really interesting Art Sculpture to come across! A rest stop no less, I would definitely stop here if travelling through! Great information on Iowa also, I did not know about the corn connection I am sorry to say!

      Thanks Peggy for a well thought out, packed full of info hub with great pictures. VU, more and sharing :-)

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 4 years ago from Thailand

      Yea, everyone needs a break while on a long journey. Themed stops are a good option for this, and usually create some nice pics ... like my 'toilet' themed coffee stop in Thailand lol.

      Shared, up, awesome.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hhi Vinaya,

      I know this might be considered an odd subject for a hub, but I thought that the artwork displayed in the Iowa Rest Stops was worth mentioning. Nice that they feature local artists and it certainly adds to a tourist's pleasure when stopping for needed stops along the way. Thanks for your comment.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Text, videos and pictures are amazing.

      You have done a wonderful hub.

      Cheers

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi alocsin,

      I know what you mean. Normally one does not associate fine art with rest stops...but our experience in the State of Iowa changed that perception. Thanks for your visit and votes.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      This is quite unusual artwork, and not something we normally associate with our stereotypes of Iowa. Voting this Up and Beautiful.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Cheryl,

      Appreciate your comment on the beautiful rest stops in Iowa. They do have some amazing artwork! Thanks!

    • Cheryl J. profile image

      Cheryl J. 5 years ago from Houston, TX

      Great photos of the beautiful artwork in Iowa rest stops. Very intersting hub on agriculture and farming in Iowa. It is very important to protect and promote our natural resources. The rest stops were very valuable for truckers and commuters.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi JamaGenee,

      I feel your pain! I also have gotten lost on those freeways in Dallas more than once. For people who do not live there and know the routes, they could be better marked as to exits well ahead of time so that one is in the correct lane. (Sorry Dallas friends who may be reading this!)

      Feel free to do another Iowa rest stop hub since there are so many more gorgeous ones. We can then link our hubs together. If I had been "hubbing" back when I visited those great rest areas...I would have more pictures. Iowa definitely has great rest stops...and like you say, the state is beautiful and well kept...at least all of the parts I have seen.

      Happy 2012 to you too!

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Apologies for being late to the party, Peggy, but I was busy getting ready for a quick car trip to Dallas, and then once there, got totally lost for 2 hours on the freeways! Suffice that if a ribbon of concrete has to be suspended 50 or 60 feet in the air to get people where they want to go, SOMEBODY needs to rethink those routes. Since I took the back roads from OK and my stops were only at gas stations and convenience stores (mostly to ask "Where am I???), I didn't visit any of the Lone Star state's interstate rest stops. Coming back on I-35, tho, I did see a group of picnic tables under what looked like concrete umbrellas on the access road. That's all there was. No toilets, no trees, no "You are here" kiosks. Looked like the only way to get to it was via the exit ramp a couple of miles farther on. Very strange.

      As for Iowa, I was never anywhere near Davenport or Iowa City, but had I been I definitely would've taken lots of pix of the Stancliffe sculptures! How interesting! Yes, Iowa is quite proud of its heritage and resources, and unlike a few states I won't mention, isn't shy about promoting the artistry of its natives. And what better place to do so than where tourists passing through will see such examples!

      One thing I always noticed on each trip to Iowa was how clean and well-maintained it was, at least along the highways. No falling-down farm outbuildings, no roadside trash. The line from "Field of Dreams" is so true: "Is this heaven? No, it's Iowa!".

      Great hub! Now I'm off to read the one about the city park in Winterset. Happy 2012!

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Hanna,

      Finding these rest stops in Iowa was more out of a need to use the facilities as well as stretching our legs after traveling in the car. So it was mere happenstance that they turned out to be so lovely and also artistic. JamaGenee (another HubPage writer...who has apparently not yet seen this) encouraged me to write about them. Wish I had taken more photos of different ones...but one gets the idea. Ha! Thanks for your comment and Happy New Year to you also.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

      Gosh, Peggy, you realy know where to find all these beautiful places and thank you for showing them to us. Happy New Year.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Prasetio,

      Viewing the State of Iowa from its rest stops is a little different. Haha! I must admit, they put a lot of artistic effort into creating them and they definitely left a favorable impression. Thanks for your comment and Happy New Year to you also.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

      I never stop to say, "this was beautiful hub". You always show beautiful place for us. This time I know that Lowa also beautiful. Thank you very much. Rated up and Happy New Year!

      Prasetio

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Don,

      I'm not sure where that rest stop with the covered bridge is located. It may not have been on an Interstate highway. All my notes said (when I put my photo album together after that trip) was that it was "another" pretty rest stop area in Iowa. The covered bridge is not an authentic old one...just built to resemble one. Going to visit relatives several times over the years, we have stopped at several of the Iowa rest stops, and they are amazing...especially these newer ones. Thanks for your comment.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Hi Peggy. Love that old bridge. I've traveled Hi 80 many times but I don't recall stopping at rest stops so I missed something. Truthfully I try to avoid the interstates and generally took back roads.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Gene,

      I guess it is better to be forewarned than not in the case of snakes. Haha! The artwork utilized in the construction and embellishments of the newer Iowa rest stops is what really got my attention. They are really pretty! Thanks for your comment.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello maxoxam41,

      As they say..."Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." The mosaic murals and other beautiful artwork in some of the Iowa rest stops definitely meets my idea of beauty in unexpected places. Thanks for your comment.

    • profile image

      Gene Jasper 5 years ago

      A couple of my cycling buddies are from Iowa and are fine people . I'm not surprised that Iowa has some interesting rest stops. My experience at a newly opened Texas rest stop on my way back from New Mexico was memorable not because of the amenities but for the first sign I encountered exiting the car. "Watch out for Snakes". I was almost discouraged from using the facilities!

      Gene

    • maxoxam41 profile image

      Deforest 5 years ago from USA

      Fortunately beauty is subjective and definitively not universal.