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DECORAH, Iowa — More and more people have been visiting northeast Iowa lately to escape outdoors where they are less likely to catch COVID-19.

One place people like to visit is the Chuck Gipp Decorah Fish Hatchery.

This is also where the Decorah Eagles reside. The area now allows for families to watch the eagles, feed the fish, catch some trout and have picnics.

“What happens with COVID is people feel more comfortable being outside in a park,” said Chuck Gipp, retired director of the Iowa DNR. “This will become an attraction for people to come and picnic and just be outdoors when you feel much safer.”

“Now in 2020, this is really become a destination point for northeast Iowa,” said Brian Malaise, director of the Decorah Fish Hatchery. “We’re trail head for the [Trout Run] bike trail. We have the four eagles’ nests right across the street from us, and we just have families come.”

“I started watching the Decorah eagles in 2011. In 2013 I started coming up here,” said Teresa Hill, from Mesquite, Texas. “I’m a real big nature lover … I like it because you can kind of feel like you’re part of the family, having you sit there and watch them.”

Decorah has plenty to offer people who visit. It also has a stunning city park called Dunnings Springs. It has a small creek coming from a rock and then cascading down the hill as a waterfall. It’s also located near a preserve called Ice Cave.

“I think the history here dates back into the mid 1840s. I think the first gristmill was built here in 1849,” said Andy Nimrod, Decorah Parks Director. “Ice Cave is a state preserve, and at one time you could get in Ice Cave and get back there a long ways.”

Ice can be hard to find in Ice Cave these days, but it’s a short hike if you want to check it out.

Decorah has lots of shops downtown. There is also the Vesterheim Museum with stories of the area’s Norwegian heritage.

Here are some links to check if you plan to visit Decorah: