Swinging bridges are fun and terrifying, all at the same time. Unless you are Indiana Jones in the 1984 film Indiana Jones and Temple of Doom, where his swinging bridge challenge wasn’t fun at all. Although you won’t encounter crocodiles or men with machetes, you can still find some great swinging bridge adventures around Iowa. Here’s our list of the most popular swinging bridges across the state. And if we’ve missed one, please add a note to the comments sections.
What is a swinging bridge?
Is a suspension bridge always a swinging bridge? Or is a swinging bridge always a suspension bridge?
Technically, swinging bridges are suspension bridges. However, not all suspension bridges are swinging bridges. The easiest way to explain how a location made the list is that the floor of the bridge moves or sways or swings. When you look online, many of these bridges are listed as suspension bridges and that is technically correct, however, if the floor moves or swings, it’s also a swinging bridge.
Lovers Leap Swinging Bridge, Columbus Junction
Known by locals as the “leap”, this is the granddaddy of swinging bridges in Iowa. It’s 262 feet across and hovers 100 feet over a ravine. The name Lovers Leap comes from a local legend that an Indian maiden jumped from the bridge to her death after finding that her lower was killed in battle. Here’s more history of the bridge and why Lovers Leap is considered the best swinging bridge in Iowa.
Bridge at Thunder Woman County Park, Janesville
Address: Winslow Rd, Janesville, IA 50647
Chances are that you may not have heard of this bridge, as it doesn’t have the publicity that many of the others get. However, it is one of the most adventurous swinging bridges in Iowa for these reasons 1) It crosses a river, West Fork Cedar River, 2) It is old, made of metal, and is rusty (ok, that doesn’t inspire confidence, but it does make it adventurous 3) The floor is grated, which means you can see through the floor down the river. So not only does the floor move/swing as you walk across – you get to see through the floor down to the river. Oh, good golly.
Estherville Swinging Bridge, Estherville
Address: 21 N 1st St, Estherville, IA 51334
The Estherville Swinging Bridge is another really underrated swinging bridge. It crossed the Des Moines River and was originally built back in 1937 with the WPA program. It was renovated in 2011. From the west side of the river, you’ll have to climb up to the bridge. Because it crosses the river and has a good amount of swing, it’s well worth the trip.
Iowa Falls Swinging Bridge, Iowa Falls
Iowa Falls is known as the “Scenic City” and a quick stop at the swinging bridge will showcase why. The bridge was originally built in 1897 and has been rehabbed several times since, most recently in 1989. Although the bridge has some bounce and swing, it is best known for its picturesque setting along the Iowa River.
Story City Swinging Bridge, Story City
Address: Broad St, Story City, IA 50248
It’s another springing bridge built by the WPA back in the 1930s. In 2019, the bridge was heavily damaged by ice flow during an early spring flood. The bridge was rebuilt and is perhaps the newest swinging bridge in the state. At 71 feet, it also might be one of the shortest swinging spans, but the setting is gorgeous and I’m betting there are a lot of homecoming, prom, and senior photos taken at this location.
Forest City Swinging Bridge, Forest City
Forest City has a long love of having a swinging bridge over the Winnebago River in Pammel Park. It’s been rebuilt several times over its long history. The current bridge has one unique feature that no other swinging bridge has – there is the name of a person or business carved into each board that makes us the floor. What a clever idea for fundraising to get the bridge restored!
Swinging Bridge at Zo-El Annett Woods, Prole
Address: 699 Hempstead Pl, Prole, IA 50229
A ten-acre woodland area located in Warren County that features a winding trail and this long suspension bridge that crosses a ravine. The name Zo-El comes from the couple that donated the property, Zona and Ellis Annett. Zo-El Annett Woods also makes an easy one mile winter hike, which includes the swinging bridge.
Swinging Bridge at Guye Woods Park, Winterset
Address: 160th St, Winterset, IA 50273
A county park located in Madison County that features a 100-long suspension/swinging bridge. The bridge crosses the North River and leads to trails within the 93-acre woodland.
Swinging Bridge at Wolf Creek Recreation Area, Beaman
Address: 33999 M Ave, Beaman, IA 50609
Wolf Creek Recreation Area is a 93-acre multipurpose area located in Grundy County featuring modern and primitive campsites. You’ll also find this 72-foot suspension bridge that swings.
Swinging Bridge at Riverside Park, Coon Rapids
Address: 150 Bridge St, Coon Rapids, IA 50058
This suspension bridge that swings is located in Riverside Park in Coon Rapids (Carroll County). The bridge crosses the Middle Raccoon River, which is also a popular canoe and kayak location.
Swinging Bridge at Moorehead Park, Ida Grove
Address: 299 Jasper Ave, Ida Grove, IA 51445
This swinging bridge is located inside Moorehead Park which is one mile northwest of Ida Grove.
Swinging Bridges at Swiss Valley Park, Dubuque
Located west of Dubuque, the park has ten miles of trails, streams that are stocked with trout, and a nature center. There are three separate locations within the park that contain swinging bridges:
Swinging Bridge at Eden Valley County Refuge, Baldwin
Address: 1415 50th Ave, Baldwin, IA 52207
This is probably the hardest swinging bridge to get to, as it’s a mile hike to get to the bridge. You can find parking at this location and here’s the exact google maps location for the swinging bridge at Eden Valley.
Swinging Bridge at Russell Wildlife Area, New Sharon
Address: 2254 200th St, New Sharon, IA 50207
The area was once a quarry and now serves as a wildlife area that is being converted back to natural land. Here’s the exact google maps location of the bridge at Russell Wildlife Area.
Swinging Bridge at Manchester Fish Hatchery, Manchester
Located about 4 miles southeast of Manchester, the fish hatchery produces about 600,000 fish each year that are stocked in local streams. Remember to bring quarters so you can buy food to feed to the fish. In the back section of the hatchery, you’ll find the swinging bridge at this exact google maps location.