Please note that the 2020 Driftless Safari will operate differently than described on this page in order to keep communities and participants safe during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Vision and History

During the summer of 2011, the Northeast Iowa Food & Fitness Initiative and several other local organizations joined together to pilot Driftless Safari, a county-wide treasure hunt lasting from Memorial Day to Labor Day that created opportunities for families to play outside together. Based on a similar program developed in Lincoln, Nebraska, Driftless Safari is designed to get families and groups out of the house and exploring the natural, cultural, and historical treasures of Winneshiek County.

The Driftless Safari program has continued since 2011 under the coordination of Winneshiek County Conservation and through the help of several generous partners and sponsors each year. For 2019, project partners include Family Table Restaurant, the Iowa Driftless Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Luther College Center for Sustainable Communities, Sugar Bowl Ice Cream Company, Upper Iowa Audubon, Winneshiek Soil and Water Conservation District, Winneshiek County Conservation, and the public libraries of Winneshiek County. All of these organizations work hard to make Winneshiek County and the surrounding area a healthy, happy, safe, and vibrant place to live.

The goal of the Driftless Safari program is threefold:

  • to help residents of and visitors to Winneshiek County engage in healthful physical activity
  • to increase awareness of and connectedness to the natural, historical, and cultural environments of Winneshiek County
  • and to foster a sense of community engagement and environmental stewardship in participants. 

And Many Thanks... 
Our sincerest thanks to the following people, organizations, and businesses. The Driftless Safari program would not have been possible without their vision, encouragement, and support.
  • Our partners and sponsors for 2019 and the many years of Safari. See our Patners page for a complete list of this year's supporters.
  • The public libraries of Winneshiek County for being the face of Driftless Safari. 
  • AJ Perling of snowball creative services, Inc. for her fabulous design work. 
  • Heidi Skildum for recognizing the value of the Safari program and working to bring it to Winneshiek County and Northeast Iowa. 
  • The original Safari based in Lincoln, Nebraska, for inspiring us with their innovative program. 
  • The families, adults, and children of Winneshiek County who make Safari a real adventure to be involved in! We couldn't do it without your enthusiastic participation.

Frequently Asked Questions

When does Driftless Safari begin/end? Safari officially runs from Memorial Day through Halloween.  

Who can go on Safari? ANYONE. Yep, we mean anyone! It doesn’t matter if you're young or old, from Winneshiek County or not. As long as you love to explore and want to know more about the treasures of Winneshiek County, you're more than welcome to join in! ( works best if you have a child along though! They're the best explorers!)

What does it cost? Nothing, nada, zippo! That’s right, it’s FREE!

What do I get when I sign up? You will receive a FREE guidebook and map of Winneshiek County. The map tells you where all of the rubbing posts are located. The guidebook tells you more about the site and how to get there and gives you a clue to find the rubbing post and a place to make your rubbing! You'll also get a bag to carry everything in and some crayons to make your rubbings with.

Can everyone have all of the materials? We'd love to have enough of everything to give each individual a map, guidebook, and bag, but we just can't. So, we ask that when you sign up as a group, you only take one map and bag per group. If you're a child, you can have your own guidebook; if you're an adult, just use your best judgement on how many guidebooks to take.

Where are the pick-up locations? The materials are distributed through the public libraries in Winneshiek County. When you get there, you'll need to fill out a paper registration form, or complete the online registration form. The library addresses are:

  • Calmar Public Library - 101 S Washington Street 
  • Decorah Public Library - 202 Winnebago Street 
  • Fort Atkinson Public Library - 302 3rd Street NW 
  • Ossian Public Library - 123 West Main Street 
  • Spillville Public Library - 201 Oak Street 
How do I get to the sites? We know you won't be able to walk or bike to every site, but we hope you can try using "green" ways of transportation throughout the Safari whenever you can! Biking, walking, carpooling, canoeing, hopping, skipping, and crawling are all great ways to get around!

Do I need to visit the sites in any order? Nope! Visit the sites in any order that you please! We suggest that you keep your guidebook and map with you—in the car or backpack—in case you have some extra time to go on Safari while you are out and about.

What do we do once we arrive at the site and find the post? Well, first you should make your rubbing, and then you need to get down to some serious exploring! There's lots to see and do at each site! Your guidebook will give you some ideas.

What do we do when our group finishes? Go back to your public library and show your librarian your completed guidebook with at least 15 rubbings. You can enter your name in a drawing to win a great prize!

Can we visit the sites from previous years? Of course! All Driftless Safari sites are places that you can visit any time! Go to the Maps page to find the locations from last year. The posts won't be there any more since we had to move them to the new sites, but you can still have plenty of adventures!