Cedar Rapids in south-east Iowa is a city renowned throughout the United States for its multi-cultural heritage, art, music, museums, and theaters. Explore anywhere in the city and you'll come across representations of Cedar Rapids' emblematic Tree of Five Seasons which symbolizes the need to take time out to enjoy the finer things in life. Built along both sides of the Cedar River, the city has an open, spacious and laid-back feel to it that makes it a pleasant place to either live or visit.
Cedar Rapids has an expansive downtown area where many of the city's main attractions are located. On the east bank of the river is the historic Czech Village full of small retail outlets, sidewalk cafes and restaurants plus multiple entertainment venues, and the National Czech and Slovak Museum. To add to the already existing bohemian atmosphere there are many events and festivals held in the district throughout the year ranging from artisan workshops to outdoor concerts and theatrical performances, cook-offs, and exhibitions.
While all that makes Cedar Rapids sound like an ideal and interesting place to be, the one thing the city doesn't have in its favor is the climate. Winters are harsh and summers worse as they're thundery, hot, and with a high level of humidity, that means even minimal exertion will have you working up a sweat. Escape the sultry summer weather by heading out of the city for a weekend RV road trip from Cedar Falls to Stillwater in Oklahoma. There's a choice of routes you can take but, the most scenic is via Iowa City heading south down the US 218 and there's plenty of amazing things to do on the way too as well as some fantastic places to pitch camp. So don't hang about, pack up your rig, switch the air-con on full blast, and hit the highway.
Motor through Iowa and aim for Illinois by changing highways onto the US 54 near Mexico in Missouri. You'll pass by sections of the Shimek State Forest and begin to follow the meandering course of the Mississippi River as you head south through the state of Missouri on your road trip from Cedar Rapids to Stillwater. You'll have been in your rig for around three hours by then and if you want to take a break, a great place to stop is the Mark Twain Cave near Hannibal. There is a campground at the cave, but there are also more exciting ones further on so it's worth waiting a while before thinking about pitching camp.
The complex of caves named after the famous author is a maze of over two-hundred and fifty underground passageways which inspired and become part of his novel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. There is even a spot in the caves where he signed his name on the rock walls. A tour of the caves takes around an hour and is accompanied by a guide who relates some of the macabre stories connected with them. If you're not in a rush to hit the road again, Cameron Cave, another subterranean labyrinth which you can tour by flashlight, is right next to the Mark Twain Cave and there's a winery tasting room where you can sample locally produced wines.
When you're only making a weekend road trip from Cedar Rapids to Stillwater, you'll want to ensure you find the perfect campground. While the recreation areas around Mark Twain Lake are great, the Lake of the Ozarks State Park takes RV camping to a new level.
The Lake of the Ozarks is a vast serpentine reservoir on the Ozark River in Missouri. The Lake of the Ozarks State Park is located on the lake's south-east Grandglaize Arm and pitching up at the campground there won't take you too far off route.
The one-hundred-plus campsites at the campground are all fitted out with utility hook-ups and even though there'll be plenty of other folks pitched there too, the trees surrounding each one makes them very private. Once you're settled into your campsite, head to one of the two beaches for a swim, go hiking or biking through a variety of landscapes, float your boat on the lake or go fishing. It's a superb spot to spend a day or two.
As you continue on your RV road trip from Cedar Rapids to Stillwater, one of the more diverse places you'll come across is the Ed Galloways Totem Pole Park. After passing through Big Cabin on the I 44, keep an eye out for the signposts for Foyil and you'll find the park halfway between the interstate highway and the rural town on the side of the OK 28. There is a parking lot off to the right before you get to the park where you can leave your rig while you go to take a look around.
The park covers around fourteen acres of grassed ground intersected with paved walkways so expect a gentle stroll rather than a strenuous hike as you explore. Distributed throughout the park are a series of eleven gigantic and very colorful totem poles created by folk artist Ed Galloway as well as a hendecagon-shaped structure known as the Fiddle House. Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the totems were created between 1937 and 1962 and include one that is the largest concrete totem in the world.
As you head towards Stillwater in Oklahoma on your weekend RV road trip, you'll have passed by several places you may want to go back to explore. The Mark Twain National Forest and the Ozark National Forest are both great weekend road trip destinations where you can enjoy getting back to nature with some outdoor recreational activities.
Once you roll into Stillwater you won't be short of things to do either. Before you turn around and head back to Cedar Rapids, drop in at the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum or have a night out line dancing at the Tumbleweed Dance Hall. If you're lucky enough to coincide your trip with the city's major festivals like the OSU Jazz Festival or the Bob Childers' Gypsy Cafe Red Dirt Music Event – believe it – there's no better note to end a weekend road trip on.