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July 12, 2023

Ragbrai L is preparing for its route around the state of Iowa this summer. Learn more about the upcoming route for the annual event below:

Saturday, July 22: Sioux City, Bike Expo Day

Located on the Missouri River at the nexus of Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota, Sioux City is where the ride that became RAGBRAI got its start — literally. Des Moines Register journalists John Karras and Donald Kaul set out from a motel at Second and Nebraska in 1973 with about 200 readers in toe and the rest is, as they say, history. Karras and Kaul also started the most central RAGBRAI tradition that year when, on the Sioux City riverfront, they dipped their bikes’ rear tires in the Missouri before beginning that inaugural journey across Iowa.

Sunday, July 23: Sioux City to Storm Lake, 77 miles, 3,504 feet of climb.

A meat- and poultry-packing town, Storm Lake’s population of immigrant workers from Latin America, Africa and Asia makes it one of Iowa’s most diverse cities. Riders can cool off at the lakeside King’s Pointe Waterpark Resort, then sample a global cornucopia of dining options, ranging from tacos and pupusas to Thai larb and pho.

Monday, July 24: Storm Lake to Carroll, 62 miles, 1,818 feet of climb.

Carroll is a town with a deep sports heritage and the current home of the Carroll Merchants, a premiere colligate summer league. In 2010, the Los Angeles Lakers debuted the Lakers Basketball Court, a purple-and-gold sports mecca amidst green fields, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the so-called “miracle landing,” when the then-Minnesota Lakers walked away unscathed from an emergency ditching of their team plane in a snowy Carroll cornfield.

Tuesday, July 25: Carroll to Ames (Century Loop Day), 83 miles, 1,479 feet of climb.

Home to Iowa State University, RAGBRAI riders will get the special honor of spinning through Jack Trice Stadium, home to the Cyclones football team. Venture a bit off-route to see Reiman Gardens, an extensive arboretum famous for Ellwood, the world’s largest concrete garden gnome.


Wednesday, July 26: Ames to Des Moines (Guinness Book of World Records Day), 50 miles, 1,216 feet of climb.

Karras and Kaul made a hometown stop on their initial ride, and there’s certain to be a tribute to the late ride founders at the monument in their honor at Des Moines' Water Works Park. The route into the Capital City also will be the shortest ride of the week at a symbolic 50 miles, leaving riders plenty of time to enjoy Greater Des Moines’ (DSM’s) many big-city attractions, from craft breweries and fine dining to the Lauridsen Skatepark, the nation’s largest, and the gold-domed Iowa Capitol.

Thursday, July 27: Des Moines to Tama-Toledo, 82 miles, 3,652 feet of climb.

Tama and Toledo are separate incorporated communities just 2 miles apart. Tama County is home to the Meskwaki Settlement of the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa and Tama’s main attraction is the tribal-owned Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel.

Friday, July 28: Tama-Toledo to Coralville (College Jersey Day), 80 miles, 3,276 feet of climb.

A suburb of nearby Iowa City, which is home to the University of Iowa, cultural and culinary options abound in Coralville, including the largest outpost of Big Grove Brewing, the maker of Tailwind, RAGBRAI’s official craft brew. Enhancing the area’s reputation is Iowa City’s status as a UNESCO City of Literature, recognizing the many top authors associated with UI’s renowned Writers’ Workshop.

Saturday, July 29: Coralville to Davenport, 66 miles, 1,604 feet of climb.

Davenport is the largest of the Quad Cities and the site where RAGBRAI riders will dip their front tires in the Mississippi River to signify the end of their journey. The Putnam Museum and Science Center, opened in December 1867, is one of the oldest museums west of the Mississippi River. Scenic views of Davenport can be had from the Davenport Skybridge, a 50-foot-tall pedestrian bridge with an observation deck facing the river. Nearby is 92-year-old Modern Woodman Park, home to the Kansas City Royals’ Class High-A affiliate Quad Cities River Bandits. Outside the left field wall is a 110-foot-tall Ferris wheel, where tired riders can relax and let someone else do the spinning.

Learn more at RAGBRAI.com.

The Greater Des Moines Partnership calendar of events is a one-stop resource for activities taking place throughout the region. Find networking information for Greater Des Moines (DSM) businesses or events specific to Downtown DSM.

Philip Joens

Philip Joens covers retail, real estate and RAGBRAI for The Des Moines Register/USA Today Network. Previously he covered public safety for The Des Moines Register, technology for the Pacific Coast Business Times, business for the Jefferson City News Tribune and business and economic development for the Columbia Daily Tribune.