Winter Wonderland: The Quad Cities
Each winter when the weather turns cold, the Quad Cities serves as host to a large majority of bald eagles making their annual southern migration from Canada to the unfrozen waters of the Mississippi River. The Quad Cities celebrates over 50 years of bald eagle education in this region. Visitors and Quad Citizens alike look to the skies to watch the eagles, easily identified by the white feathers of their heads and tails and their immense wingspans. A symbol of freedom and strength, and once on the brink of extinction, bald eagles regularly awe visitors who line the banks of the Mississippi River on crisp, clear winter days.
Just down river from Locks and Dams 14 and 15, these magnificent birds of prey gather along the tree-lined banks to spend the winter in the Quad Cities. The waters of the river remain unfrozen, fish is plentiful and old-growth forests provide prime sites for perching and roosting. The Quad Cities celebrates the return of these transient residents each winter. The bald eagles seen in the Quad Cities are growing in number. In 2007, the eagle was removed from the list of threatened and endangered species. Bald Eagle Days is the feature celebration on January 6-8, 2023, at the QCCA Expo Center located at 2621 4th Avenue in Rock Island, Illinois. It is the largest event in the Midwest dedicated to the United States’ national symbol. Hours: Friday 4 p.m.-8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-8 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults and $1 for kids 6-15 years. Free for kids on Friday night.
Instead of a bike trail, follow a different kind of trail on cross country skiis. You’ll find trails groomed for classic style and skate style cross country skiing at Crow Creek Park and Palmer Hills Golf Course, both in Bettendorf, Iowa. Often, skiers can find skied-in trails at Duck Creek Golf Course and Emeis Golf Course in Davenport, Iowa, and at Saukie Golf Course in Rock Island, Ill. You can rent cross country skis, boots, and poles at Palmer Hills Golf Course in Bettendorf. You can create your own trails at Black Hawk State Historic Site, Loud Thunder Forest Preserve, and Scott County Park. They are also favorites for winter hiking or snowshoeing. You can rent snowshoes during the week at the Wapsi River Education Center. Find more information at visitquadcities.com.
For high-speed excitement, visit Snowstar Extreme Sports in Andalusia, Ill. where you’ll find downhill skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, and ice skating. This 28-acre winter wonderland is perfect for family activity or an adventure with friends. Explore 15 trails and a professionally-designed freestyle area known as the Terrain Park, which features 40+ jumps, rails, and boxes for all levels. Plus, Snowstar’s four ski lifts, two magic carpet tows, and a tow rope make getting back to the top easy. Enjoy the expanded warming hut and new snack trailer at the popular tubing hill, in addition to the eatery and bar. Online pre-registration for lift tickets, rentals, and waivers is encouraged. There is a new ticket booth to access from your car at the entrance. For more information, contact 800-383-4002 or www.skisnowstar.com.