MAQUOKETA, Iowa — Rocks, hills, mud, sand and dirt.
That’s how Kenny Hansen describes his private ATV park, Hansen Hollows, in Spragueville, Iowa. It might not sound like much, but people are driving as far as 70 miles to experience it.
“We have people coming from Iowa City, Muscatine and Wisconsin,” Hansen said. “They come from all over.”
For enthusiasts of all-terrain and utility vehicles, private parks and trails like Hansen Hollows provide a unique outlet to truly let loose. Winding trails cut deep into the woods, giving ATV riders the opportunity to drive up hills and plow through muddy pools of water.
An ATV or UTV might enter a park like Hansen Hollows completely clean, but they often leave caked in mud.
“That’s just the way some people like it,” Hansen said. “They will go out and come back completely brown.”
However, ATV parks are a rarity in the Midwest, meaning riders often must drive many miles in order to reach one.
Jackson County is unique in that it has two ATV parks in relatively close proximity to each other.
Just north of Hansen Hollows lies River Ridge Trails, an ATV park providing miles of wooded tracks to explore.
Steve Tebbe, owner of River Ridge Trails, created the park five years ago at the behest of his friends.
“I already had the land and used it to ride,” Tebbe said. “They would tell me that I should open it up to the public, so that’s what I did.”
Similar to Hansen Hollows, Tebbe said River Ridge Trails draws riders from several counties away. An ATV enthusiast himself, he knows how far people will travel for a good spot.
“There’s no options out there,” Tebbe said. “You need a lot of land, and they need to be kept up. Not everyone wants to deal with it.”
Hansen, who has operated his ATV park since 2010, said the park’s popularity has grown over the years.
Tebbe said more older residents are purchasing UTVs and taking them to River Ridge Trails. They don’t necessarily want the thrill of pushing their vehicle to the limit, but they do like the park’s accessibility to nature.
“They want to be able to take their grandkids out for a ride in the woods,” Tebbe said. “We are getting more and more of those types of riders.”
As ATV and UTV riding continues to grow in popularity, Tebbe questions whether more ATV parks will show up in the future. For now, though, he’s glad to invite people from miles away to ride in his park.
“I think it’s great,” Tebbe said. “There is nothing quite like taking a side-by-side out in the woods, and I’m glad to provide that to people.”