Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Ultimate Guide to Highlandville, Iowa


Highlandville, Iowa, population 35.

So I know what you are asking right now, why in the heck would I want to go to Highlandville Iowa? The answer is simple - Trout Fishing!

About Highlandville:

Highlandville, Iowa is a quiet, quaint town in the north eastern part of the state and has one of the best trout fishing streams running through it. It is located in Winneshiek County and is just outside of Decorah.

The General Store with Campground on the right.

What to do in Highlandville:

If you think you are going to go to Highlandville for their wonderful dining, shopping or local atmosphere, think again. There is only one business in this tiny little town and if you are there to hunt or fish, you will get to know it well. It's the General Store which hosts a store (obviously) and runs the local campground Bear Creek Cabins which is located right on the South Bear Creek.

Bear Creek Cabins campground Highlandville Iowa
Our campsite for the mini vacation.
Camping is the route we took driving our 29 foot class-C camper down from the Twin Cities. The campground hosts 10 electric sites that are only $24 a night and 10 primitive sites that are only $18 a night. No matter which direction you take with camping, there is a central bathroom facility that hosts four bathrooms and two showers. When you check into your camping site, they will give you the keys to enter the bathroom area. Bear Creek Cabins is a step back into the days before the internet, as you actually have to call them up to make your reservation.

So what if camping isn't what you're into, well good news they also have nine cabins that they rent out also. They have all of their different rates for the different seasons on their web site. You still have to call into make the reservation, but the cabins have an availability calendar on the web site so that you can see which cabins are available for the days you are looking at. My husband has stayed in several different cabins on "guys weekends" when they are fishing and has said that everyone is comfortable with room to spread out and cook up the fish they just caught hours earlier.

1911 two-room schoolhouse Highlandville Iowa
1911 2-room schoolhouse.
If you haven't gotten enough walking in walking the stream, there is one local attraction that is within walking distance of the campground and that is the 1911 2-room School House located on the other side of the stream. Here is a link to it's history which I looked up after our visit. It is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places because of it's uniqueness also. This is the only single-story, two-room schoolhouse with a belfry in the county. It was all locked up when we walked over to see it, but on my tip-toes I was able to peek into one of the windows. Right next to is on the right are two little two-seater outhouses. They both had their doors open, so I had to look inside. Another interesting things we noticed was a large circle in the grass that looked like it might have previously been a circle drop off that was used with horse and buggies or later even cars. I am not sure about the factuality of this, but it is just what we noticed in the grass right out front.

Iowa Fishing Regulations:

Just like fishing anywhere else in the United States, you need to follow the rules and regulations of the state you are fishing in. Here are some of Iowa's rules you need to know about. 

Season: All waters - Continuous
Daily Bag & Possession: All waters - Combined daily of 5 and possession of 10
Length Limits: None. However a few other streams in Iowa have restrictions, so please check.
Licenses: Under 16: No licenses needed if fishing with a license holding adult
                                 If not with an adult, must have a fishing license and trout fee
                16 and older: Must have an Iowa fishing license and trout fee to fish or possess trout

Getting ready for trout fishing Highlandville Iowa
Husband & Son getting ready to fish.
Stream behind campground, Highlandville Iowa
My son's 1st time trout fishing.

Where to fish: If you're in the campground, you can fish right behind your site. If you're in the cabins, you may need to hike or get into your car to find your spot. My husband will not let me tell you his secret fishing locations, as any good fisherman would do the same. But there are many holes along the stream that host a good number of trout in all varieties.  He has caught his limit on every trip to Highlandville he takes.

My Experience in Highlandville:

Quilting in the camper
Quilting in the Camper.
So my personal experience in Highlandville is a little different from most people because of one thing - I don't fish. So why in the heck would I go to Highlandville on a mini vacation then? Well, my husband and youngest son love fishing, I had a five day weekend from my job coming up, trout fishing was catch and release only in our state, and I really just needed to get away for a few days. So my husband suggested Highlandville Iowa as our mini vacation. I tried to do some research online, but nobody has really written about this little city by the stream. I called, made our reservation and started making a menu to bring with in our RV. We recently purchased a 29-foot class-c and I wanted to take him out for one more trip before the cold Minnesota winter started to settle in.  With fishing not on my to-do list, I brought along my sewing machine and quilting supplies. I have been trying to finish my daughter's high school graduation quilt, and she graduated two years ago. So while the guys went out fishing early morning, I would make breakfast and get the prep work done for lunch and start sewing. They would come back from fishing, eat and relax for awhile. This is when we would go walking on the streets, see the old schoolhouse and enjoy the fresh air. Once the sun started to dim, they would go back out fishing and I would start dinner and sew some more. They would be gone for 4-5 hours at a time, so I can proudly say that I finished the inside piece work of the quilt on this trip and only have the borders and actual quilting left to go. The campground also has wi-fi, so I was able to catch up on all my Netflix shows that I am so far behind on. We also went on this trip at the end of October, and it would get dark out about 6:30. So after dinner and clean-up, we would watch one episode of This is Us (we were very far behind on that one too) and then they would pull out the cribbage board. Again, I am not a cribbage player either, so this was prime time to get caught up on my sleeping. 

Trout Stream right behind the camper
Stream right behind the camper.
Me through the RV window.

My Ratings:

Travel time: ✭✭✭✭✭ 
From the Twin Cities it was under a 3-hour drive, totally doable even after work.

Food & Dining: ✭✩✩✩✩ 
You will need to bring your own food as there are no restaurants in town. There is convenience foods available at the General Store, but you will want to bring your own along. Otherwise it is about a 20 minute drive into Decorah if you need a grocery store or restaurants.
Entertainment: ✭✭✩✩✩ 
Fishing is the only entertainment in town. If you like fishing, it will be 5-stars, if not, just soak in the relaxation time. There are no movie theaters, no bowling alleys so bring along board games, movies, books or a project like I did.

Amount of Crowds: ✭✭✭✭✭ 
Met about 15 people total that were at the campground, so crowds were no issue whatsoever.

Expenses: ✭✭✭✭✭ 
$75 for camp site, about $50 for souvenirs and snacks, $15 trout fee license and a tank of gas each way. This was a very inexpensive trip if you are prepared and plan ahead.

Child Friendly: ✭✭✭✭✭
If your child is into fishing 5-stars, if not, there is not much in town for them to do. There is a small playset at the campground, but remember there is also a stream running through the campground too, so keep a constant eye on little ones.

Pet Friendly: ✭✭✭✭✭
We brought our chihuahua with and she loved rolling in all the smells. Saw one other dog the whole trip but they are welcomed. Be sure to follow good pet owner camping rules: leash them and pick up after them. We were also at the campground, check before booking with the cabins pet rules.

Would We Go Again: ✭✭✭✭✭
Husband has already gone back once since this trip. We are thinking this will be our go-to location for October camping. So the answer is yes. The guys loved fishing all day and I made it into my own personal girls weekend to get my sewing done. 

Ultimate Guide to Highlandville Iowa

I am not being compensated in anyway by any of these establishments. All of these opinions are my own and were made during a vacation trip with my family. Please be sure to check with any establishment listed for their regulations and reservations. And as always, please be sure to use your best judgement when bringing children or pets onto vacations. 

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