Great Place To Get Away
Whether you are planning a getaway vacation, a visit or even a relocation to the area, the area’s rich cultural opportunities and multitude of recreational opportunities are the perfect way to spend your time.
The Little Sioux River meanders through Spencer and Clay County, creating a wealth of recreational opportunities for those who savor the outdoors and nature. Naturalists and outdoor sports enthusiasts will also find a variety of amenities available at Spencer’s parks — which offer basketball, tennis and volleyball courts, baseball/softball diamonds, swimming, a skateboard park, playgrounds, camping and bike/walking trails.
Spencer’s recreational trail system serves thousands of people each year, providing safe and accessible opportunities to enjoy the beauty of the community’s natural habitat. The trail system meanders through Spencer offering over 9 miles of biking/walking trails for all to use. Stolley Park is known for its beautiful nature area, and is the ideal location for fishing, hiking, picnicking and bird watching. The paved trail system encircles Stolley Park. The trail continues through East Leach Park, and includes a walking bridge over the Little Sioux River — connecting the park to southeast Spencer.
Pederson Park is a favorite for baseball and softball enthusiasts, with multiple fields used extensively from May through September by patrons of all ages. It is estimated that during these months, the number of people that converge upon Pederson Park on a weekly basis is equivalent to Spencer’s population.
River View Park’s Aquatic Center opened in 1997, and is a jewel within the Spencer Park Department. Hundreds of water and sun lovers descend upon the park daily during peak season to enjoy a fun and exciting atmosphere. River View Park boasts two water slides, a zero-depth wading section, a sand volleyball pit and a playground — all housed within the water park’s campus. A nearby eight-plex tennis court is shared with the Spencer Community School which provided partial funds.
Spencer’s park system provides amenities for all citizens. East Leach Park is home to a campground and enclosed shelter house. The park is also the site of summer band concerts, picnics, family reunions, sand volleyball tournaments and skate boarding at the state-of-the-art skate park. The huge “Miracle on Fourth Street” playground labyrinth — which was funded and assembled through a community-wide effort — teems with children year around. Finally, an ice skating rink is available in the winter.
Other Parks within the Spencer Park System include DeWolf, North School, Pete’s Pond, Sunset, Westview Memorial, Fairview, Waterway, C. Earl Page and West Leach Park — totaling 256 acres.
Spencer’s Park Department is also in charge of tree and flower planting and care throughout the City of Spencer. Trees are planted for citizens in the area between the sidewalk and the street each spring at a cost of $10 per tree. For more information about Spencer’s Parks, contact Spencer City Hall at 712.580.7200 or visit the parks website at www.spenceriowacity.com/parks.
Scharnberg Park, located six miles west of Spencer, is a 45-acre park with a 15-acre pond, which includes a handicap accessible fishing pier. The pond is stocked with bass, bluegill and channel catfish. The park also has a swimming beach and a campground — which has 63 camp sites that include rural water, shower facilities, electric, cable TV and wireless Internet. All these amenities are included in the camping fee. Concessions and firewood are available. Scharnberg Park also has three cabins for rent.
For more information about Scharnberg Park, call 712.262.2187 or visit www.co.clay.ia.us.
Other parks in the county include Bertram Reservation, Bob Howe/Thunder Bridge Wildlife Refuge, Burr Wildlife Area, Dickens Pit, Grandview Park, Kindlespire Little Sioux Access, Oneonta Little Sioux Access, Riverside Little Sioux Access, Schmerse Wildlife Area, Stoffer Memorial Wildlife Refuge, Vera and Gilbert James Wildlife Area, and Stub Johnson Equestrian Area.
Spencer Golf and Country Club
Spencer golf dates back to around 1900 when a handful of young men marked off a course where the gates of the Clay County Fair now stand. The course, set in a pasture area where the sheep did the mowing, consisted of tin cans buried in the ground for cups.
Spencer golfers found plenty of support in 1919 when a Golf and Country Club was proposed as a recreational center, which eventually resulted in the incorporation of Spencer Golf and Country Club in June 1919. The course and country club were on the southeast edge of Spencer where the present-day St. Luke Lutheran Home and Del’s Garden Center are located. The original clubhouse stood for 21 years before being destroyed by a fire in 1961. The country club board decided it was time to choose a new location. In 1963, the old golf course was sold to Lutheran Churches of Northwest Iowa. The land was handed over in the fall of 1964, and the club moved to its current location. The new site included 169 acres of land near the original site.
Spencer’s Golf and Country Club was ranked as Iowa’s fourth best course in the 2003 issue of Golfweek Magazine. The 18-hole course is the site of the Northwest Amateur Golf Tournament, which began in 1921. For more information about the course, call 712.262.2028.
Spencer Municipal Golf Course
The Spencer Municipal Golf Course is located off Highway 71 on Fourth Avenue Southwest. Formerly Grandview Golf Course was a nine-hole course built in 1974. The city purchased the course in 1976. More than 80 acres of land were purchased for an additional nine holes in 1999. Course amenities include a large practice putting green, a practice chipping green with sand bunker, and a large grass driving range with several target greens. The golf shop offers golf equipment and apparel at discount prices, and also features a full line of refreshments and food items. For more information about the course, call: 712.580.7280 or visit www.spenceriowacity.com/golf.
Spencer Family YMCA
The Spencer Family YMCA was opened in 1965 with a mission to offer programs that develop character through teaching and demonstrating positive values.
Spencer’s YMCA programs are tools for building honesty, respect and responsibility. The YMCA has been a longtime leader within the community — teaching kids to swim, offering exercise classes for people with disabilities, and leading adult aerobics. The Y also offers hundreds of other programs in response to community needs — including camping, child care (the YMCA movement is the nation’s largest provider), teen clubs, environmental programs, substance abuse prevention, youth sports, family nights, mentoring, job training and international exchange.
For more information about the Spencer Family YMCA, call 712.262.3782 or visit www.spencerymca.org.