RAGBRAI LI July 20 -27, 2024

Onawa Tire Dip

This may have been discussed before but has anyone determined a decent route for a tire dip in the Missouri from Onawa on Saturday? Im staying with PBV and the campsite is west of downtown and closer to the river.

24 Replies

Mike Howe, June 30, 2018 at 4:49 pm

Im with PBV too and was wondering the same thing. I think there was a post a few weeks ago about which route was the best to get to the river to dip your tire.


LawnchairMan, June 30, 2018 at 5:09 pm

If I have time, I will take K 45 south to River Sioux, then west to the river. Should be 38 miles round trip with 200 feet of climb. Mostly paved with maybe two hundred feet of gravel. Other options are shorter, but with more gravel or more traffic.


nhhillrider, July 1, 2018 at 9:24 am

I created a loop on mapmyride. Please all feel free to make alternative mods to the loop. It looked interesting to me to go through the Onawa Materials Yard Wildlife Area … although I think there is more gravel this way. 25 miles round trip. I would not mind a longer trip than this but I’m not familiar with the area.



Phil Stearney, July 1, 2018 at 10:15 am

Just a thought for those of you who want a shorter trip that you can say is ‘technically’ a tire dip in the Missouri River…I am sure I will get some negative feedback from the purists on here, but what the hell: There is a lake called Blue Lake just west of Onawa. It surrounds Lewis and Clark state park on three sides. It is an ‘oxbow’ lake. Long ago, it used to be a section of the Missouri River but was ‘cut off’ into a separate lake due to heavy flooding / erosion / etc…Very common along old rivers. So…you could technically say that the water in this lake is the Missouri River…Your call on that – and I won’t say whether you are cheating or not…I am not sure what I will do on Day zero, but it will largely depend on how I feel after a 6 hour bus ride – and of course what the weather is…


LawnchairMan, July 1, 2018 at 7:48 pm


Have you checked your route with satellite view? It shows the road gets down to two tire paths. I think they call it cow trails. I don’t know how well a mountain bike would do, but certainly a road bike wouldn’t. Besides that, there are three ponds your trail crosses. The third, near mile 13, may connect to the Missouri, so I guess you could dip there and return. To continue you would have to cross about 20 feet of water or marsh land (guessing). I suppose that depends on the current weather. (no pun intended) Good luck!


LawnchairMan, July 1, 2018 at 8:31 pm

This is weird, I am hoping someone can explain it. There is another pond before the others I noted. But this one has what looks like a bridge that rotates. It looks like it rotates on the horizontal axis so it becomes vertical like a fence. Still connects to both sides, so it wouldn’t let a boat through. Can anybody explain this to me? Thanks!

Maybe it’s a flood gate, but why is it right there on the path? Weird!


nhhillrider, July 1, 2018 at 8:38 pm

Ugh. Thanks LawnchairMan. That is not what I intended. I updated the loop to be what you suggested earlier. K45 South and head west and return. About 38 miles.


KenH, July 2, 2018 at 8:56 am

I am a purist of sorts. I see no value in a wheel dip in a substitute body of water because the object of the game, in my mind, is to ride border to border, not to get my tires wet. You cannot get to the eastern border because it lies in the middle of the Mississippi River. I think, I have not checked to see if there are exceptions to that. Dipping your tires in the Mississippi is as close as you can get to the eastern border so that is what we do. It also harkens back to Sargon the Great’s conquest of the ancient Fertile Crescent and washing his sword in the Mediterranean when his army got to the shore. But I am probably the only one who remembers that….

On the western border you mostly have the Missouri and the Big Sioux rivers on the boarder but here there are exceptions due to the above mentioned oxbows. Originally the borders followed the rivers but rivers change their beds, often creating oxbows in the process and the borders do not change. So in the Onawa area you have the Onawa Materials Yard Wildlife Area and the Middle Decatur Bend Wildlife Area as two examples of where the river changed after the borders defined. In the Materials Yard area the border is actually on dry land now. In the Decatur area there’s a boat landing at the end of 243rd street (appears to be gravel) that you could potentially use as dip site in an oxbow that does lie on the border.

Road bikes are not a good choice for dirt roads if they are wet. But if they are dry and hard your road bike will have no particular issues with a dirt road other than it will get dusty. The dirt road ride from 230th street to the border appears to be very short.

LawnchairMan: nhhillrider changed his route so I cannot spot the feature you are puzzled with to give you my opinion.


sweenekj, July 2, 2018 at 12:25 pm

That looks like a nice ride to Woodland Campground.

For a shorter option, with perhaps a bit more gravel, I am thinking about Huff Access County Park via K45 and E60. It looks like gravel from where E60 passes over I-29, about 3 miles to the park, about 22 miles R/T. Anyone familiar with that area?

We seem somehow to have often have a combination of laziness and lateness on Saturday, so not sure I can sell 6 miles of gravel to the troops!


Heather, July 2, 2018 at 1:11 pm

I was planning on taking 175. It seems like it has nice shoulders to ride on. There appears to be a road right before the toll bridge that leads to section that could be good for tire dipping.


Carl, July 2, 2018 at 1:43 pm

Sat image looks very much like crushed gravel shoulders on 175. Suggest going south on k45 to Huff Access County Park, Blencoe, IA 51523. There’s a bit a gravel west of i-29 but looks like a nice hard, compact and should be ok…


Kevin Keegan, July 2, 2018 at 1:51 pm

175 doesn’t have any hard surface shoulders. If you zoom into street view you will see that the white line is the end of the tarmac. There is a rumble strip and gravel for the shoulder.

That said, the K 45 route is basically the same thing. I think the concern is that 175 could be busy with traffic coming into Onawa from Nebraska. The K 45 route should have much less traffic
since I 29 parallels K 45 most of the way.

But, I am all for getting a group together on Saturday afternoon and riding en-masse to the river. That should increase the safety factor significantly.


RDaryl Daryl, July 2, 2018 at 3:29 pm

I am also a purist of sorts.
As a result, I might (accidentally) spill some Missouri craft beer on my rear wheel while setting up my tent in Onawa.
Nothing like good old RAGBRAI traditions – Looking forward to picking up a 12 pack (of ice cream bars) to share with the crew in Onawa . . . . . .


KenH, July 2, 2018 at 6:03 pm

As a fellow purist I approve this plan!


LawnchairMan, July 2, 2018 at 7:03 pm

Hi KenH,

I put this “map” together quickly just to show the spot I am puzzled about. There is a body of water that could be a canal or irrigation ditch. At the West end of this route is a structure that I first thought was a bridge, but might be a water gate. If so, why put it there? Thanks for your input.


Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 24 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.


RAGBRAI L – 2023




Gatherings & Meetings

Lost and Found


Clubs, Teams & Charters