Things To Do

Our town was named by Nest Magazine as one of the ’15 Little Known Midwest Towns Everyone Must Visit at Least Once. We agree!  Established 175 years ago, downtown Elkader is a classic US Main Street. We have a wide variety of activities in Elkader ranging from learning more about our historic town and it’s development, lots of sports options and activities for the kids, local theater, wineries, and more. It’s no secret why many of our campers have been returning to Deer Run Resort for over 20 years. So, let us help answer the question, “What is there to do around these parts?”

Option 1:

Do little or even nothing and just enjoy the environment – settle in, stay, enjoy nature, and relax in whatever way suits you best.

Option 2:

Enjoy the outdoors or get out on the town. Experience activities in Elkader from shopping to backpacking, biking, fishing, & skiing.

Book Now

Activities for All!

As part of the Great American Midwest, Iowa offers a wide variety of outdoor activities for every visitor.

A few times a year you’ll be able to enjoy one of the best 3-D archery ranges in Iowa just 5 miles south of Elkader, at Osborne Conservation Center on Highway 13. The range is in a hilly, wooded area with easy walking trails right next to the scenic Volga River. Check our schedule for details on when the range will be open.

Hunters can visit public hunting areas in Backbone State Park and in the Volga River Recreation Area. For information on regulations and permits, contact the Iowa DNR.

If fishing and boating is more your style, head over to the Mississippi River for one of the many boat launch areas and put in for a day of leisurely cruising, or cast your line and catch some fish. Or try the Turkey River that runs right next to Deer Run Resort and fish for northern pike, carp, red-horse, sheep-head, catfish and smallmouth bass. Trout can be found at Backbone State Park or the Big Springs Trout Hatchery about 15 minutes from the campground.

Reach Gary Siegworth at Big Springs Trout Hatchery at (563) 245-2446 for more trout fishing info, or contact the Iowa DNR to learn more about our state’s fishing regulations.

Note that boats can be parked in the Deer Run Resort parking area. We are not liable for the boat while on the premises.

Our state offers both water and land trails that allow you to get into the great outdoors and explore the local territory in any way you’d like.

Bicyclists can enjoy the Pony Hollow Bike Trail, a four-mile each way trail that’s terrific for children. If you choose to do the round trip you’ll have eight miles of biking that follows the old St. Paul, Milwaukee and Chicago Railroad bed, and runs through varied terrain of woodlands, hills, and valleys. This trail is open year-round for bicycling, hiking, horseback riding and snowmobiling in the winter months.

Bring your motorcycle and enjoy the Scenic Byway! Groups like the local Moto Guzzi and BMW clubs love to visit Deer Run Resort as their home base while enjoying the local terrain on their bikes.

Guest can get some great exercise in the local hiking and backpacking trails near the Resort. Elkader Riverwalk is just west of us and is a lighted, hard-surface trail that is 6 feet wide and handicapped accessible. The round trip is about 2.5 miles, starting at Elkader City Park and traveling along the Turkey River into the historic downtown area of Elkader. Or, enjoy Pony Hollow Trail for walking as well as biking.

Bring your horse to the horseback riding and equestrian trails nearby at Backbone State Park, Volga River Recreation Area, and Yellow River Forest. Contact the Iowa DNR for information.

When the snow blankets the area you can enjoy cross country skiing or snowmobiling on our trails, or snowshoe with rental equipment from Clayton County Conservation. Explore miles of territory in Clayton County and beyond and understand why Iowa is truly a winter wonderland when the snow is falling.

Pikes Peak is located nearby in McGregor, and the Effigy Mounds in Harpers Ferry) offer opportunities to explore.

To learn more about all of the available trails, check out

Water enthusiasts can enjoy just about every type of water sport, including canoeing, kayaking and tubing. Put in at the Turkey River right across from the Resort, and take a float six miles down river to Motor Mill, eighteen miles to Garber, Iowa, or head down the Volga River. Rent your watercraft from Turkey River Outfitters, at (563) 245-3802.

The gorgeous Elkader City Pool is located just outside the entrance of Deer Run Resort. The newly remodeled facility offers lap swimming, concessions, plenty of lounge chairs and water aerobics.

A playground area where kids can climb through tunnels or go down the slides is found next to the lodge.

There are two public tennis courts and two public volleyball courts in Elkader City Park, as well as horseshoe throwing pits and softball/baseball diamonds at the park or at the local High School. A basketball hoop is located on the campground.

Visit the Osborne Nature Center or Wetland Center to learn more about wildlife and the beauty of our area.

The Elkader Cinema has recently been remodeled and renovated, and is located right on Main Street, so plan a movie night during your stay. Visit them online at The Elkader Cinema, or call at (563) 245-2666 for movie times.

Elkader General Store – bulk foods and specialty kitchen items, ice cream and candy

Think Custom Apparel – Elkader apparel and more

Twisted Ally – soaps, decor and more

The Collective – art gallery

Bridgestreet – unique gifts, apparel, kids stuff, dip mixes, home decor and much more

Style Abode – home decor and gifts

Clayton Drug – medical needs, gifts, games, books,

Elkader Floral – fresh and silk arrangements, decor

Be sure to check out the Clayton County Events Calendar  to find events during your stay. You’ll find events at local museums, plays at the theater, events that teach about the history of our town and the surrounding area, and more.

Be sure to check out winery and brewery tours, and visit Turkey River Mall for quaint shops.

Golf – enjoy the 9-hole golf course at the Elkader Golf and Country Club. Located in a valley with a remodeled barn and large dance hall/banquet room, this private course is also open to the public. (563) 245-2230.

No matter what your favorite things to do are, Deer Run Resort is the ideal central hub to call home while enjoying the activities Elkader has to offer.

Delicious Meals & Great Deals

Drinks to Wet your Whistle

Local Events Galore

Contact Us to Learn More!

Something for Everyone

Loads of Activities in Elkader!

Some of our campers rarely leave their peaceful campsites, some want a little more adventure in their stay, so you have tons of options for things to do when you stay at Deer Run Resort.

Book Your Next Stay Today