About Grant Wood Loop


To enhance, promote, sustain, and connect our region’s cultural, natural and park assets.


Engage. Reflect. Return. Whether you paddle, pedal, stride, ride or rest, our region has developed a national model of public-private partnership, inviting all to find their personal meaning and lasting memories with connections to:


The Grant Wood Loop encompasses Dubuque, Jackson, and Jones Counties with a population of just under 140,000. Our natural resources and thriving arts and culture community provide a perfect canvas for investing in our people, parks, and future. These places offer the kind of experience that give residents and visitors alike the opportunity to connect with the outdoors, to friends and family, and create forever memories.

The Grant Wood Loop is a rarity, boasting carved river valleys, majestic limestone bluffs and rolling hills historically dominated by prairie and timber. This diverse terrain gave birth to a region of rivers. The Mississippi, Maquoketa and Wapsipinicon Rivers dominate the landscape. Today, the ancient natural formations exist side by side with modern agriculture and river towns. The region boasts a wealth of assets and opportunities for a collaborative effort to connect parks to people and places: unique and ancient land formations, 4,390 miles of waterways, four state parks and numerous county parks totaling almost 7,000 acres of parkland, and innumerable cultural and arts events. These idyllic landscapes were the inspiration for many of Grant Wood’s greatest works, and are the inspiration for the projects outlined in the Grant Wood Loop Master Plan


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Through funding from the Dubuque Racing Association, Core Grant program, the Grant Wood Mississippi River Region Board of Directors embarked on a six-month planning process to develop a long term strategic and sustainability plan. The plan provides a roadmap for the future for the Grant Wood Mississippi River Region region. Our Strategic Plan for the future of Grant Wood Loop can be found here: Grant Wood Loop Strategic Plan March 2023.

The Grant Wood Loop encompasses Dubuque, Jackson, and Jones counties and a population of just under 140,000. Our natural resources and thriving arts communities provide a perfect canvas for investing in our people, parks, and future. Town after town, park after park, offer the kind of experience that give residents and visitors alike the opportunity to connect with the outdoors, connect to friends and family, and create memories that will last a lifetime.


In September 2014, the State of Iowa selected Jackson, Jones, and Dubuque Counties to serve as the pilot region for the Parks to People Initiative – a program created by the Governor’s Green Ribbon Commission - which aims to create a long-term, sustainable strategy to revitalize Iowa State Parks in connection with their surrounding regions. As the pilot program, The Grant Wood Mississippi River Region (GWMRR) was the only region to receive an implementation award - $1.9 million allocated by the legislature to the Iowa Parks Foundation for parks infrastructure projects.

Backed by this award, and with the support of the Governor, Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Iowa Parks Foundation, the three counties formed the GWMRR partnership, made up of diverse stakeholders from the region, who are identified on page 11 of this document. This collaboration is working together to “enhance, promote, sustain, and connect” the region’s cultural, natural and park assets.

The partnership selected a Board of Directors of volunteer stakeholders working diligently to plan and leverage funding for recreation, natural resources, and cultural projects in all three counties that will benefit the entire region. A strategic planning process vetted through seven public input sessions, that generated over 460 comments, identified four Priority Initiatives detailed later, but include:

The GWMRR volunteers have worked hard over the last year to come up with an aggressive, yet achievable plan to enhance the region’s park and cultural resources. As part of the Parks to People award, the IPF is requiring the region to match the $1.9 million in funding at a 5:1 rate and to complete all projects by end of 2017. To meet this requirement, the Board has identified and prioritized nearly $20 million in potential projects. While we are actively seeking match from local governments and writing grants to support the projects, the success of these initiatives requires private support as well.

The positive impacts generated by increased tourism, improved quality of life, stewardship of natural resources, encouragement of healthy lifestyles, and connection to each other will be numerous and long-standing. Completion of these projects is extremely important work that we are asking our generous citizens, businesses, and foundations to join us in bringing to reality.


The Regional Planning Affiliation (RPA 8) is a four-county region including the counties of Clinton, Delaware, Dubuque and Jackson in Eastern Iowa. The size of the cities served by RPA 8 ranges from 24 in Durango to 77,018 in the Dubuque metro.

The RPA organizes and oversees the planning and development of the multimodal transportation system using Federal funds under the guidance of the State of Iowa. The process was created by the State of Iowa to give local elected officials input into the transportation development process outside the Metropolitan Planning Organizations.

The committee identifies transportation improvements and prepares plans for the development of all parts of the transportation system (roads, trails, transit, rail, river transportation and air) in the rural area. The RPA staff also coordinates the activities of local, regional, state and federal agencies to develop transportation improvements.

Examples of RPA projects include the U.S. Highway 30/67 improvements through Clinton, transportation modeling and land use studies for member communities, and project management for facility improvements.



This website is the effort of Grant Wood Loop, Regional Planning Affiliation 8, and Jones County. It encompasses attractions and experiences from Clinton, Delaware, Dubuque, Jackson & Jones Counties.

Clinton County Lesley Webster cvb@growclinton.org

Dubuque County Taylor Kellogg tkellogg@traveldubuque.com

Jones County Derek Lumsden director@jonescountydevelopment.com

Jackson County Kelley Brown kelleybrown@thejcea.org

Delaware County Janet Klostermann delawarecountyiatourism@gmail.com