Iowa — Transportation
Iowa Taxis and Car Rental
Iowa is well situated for drivers coming to the state by road. Interstate 35 runs north to south right through the center of the state, while Interstate 80 passes from east to west. From these two major highways it’s easy to reach any town in Iowa, making driving a good option for travelers who want to see more of the state and have the flexibility to reach out-of-city attractions like the Amana Colonies. Car rental firms are readily available at the airports and downtown areas of all the main cities. The only time driving can be tricky is during winter (November to February), when road conditions can suddenly get icy or become a full snow-blown mess. You can dial 511 anytime to get an accurate update of the state’s driving conditions.
Taxis will only be available in Des Moines and a few other major cities like Iowa City and Cedar Rapids. Very few locals use taxis because they have cars and prefer to drive. In Des Moines try Budget Cab (+1-515-223-6465) for 24-hour taxi pick ups or Genes Transportation (+1-515-249-1127).
Iowa Trains and Buses
The bus is the most common form of long-distance transportation to reach Iowa and move around the state between cities. Besides the pervasive Greyhound bus, travelers can also choose Burlington Trailways, Jefferson Lines, or the Megabus (connecting Des Moines, Iowa City, and Chicago). All of these companies have very affordable fares and can reach even the smallest country town. Seats are comfy enough for a few hours, but buses don’t have bathrooms and only stop at designated towns.
If time is on your side, you can reach Iowa by Amtrak train. Though it’s not particularly convenient, you can take the Chicago to Dubuque trunk line to connect to several major cross-country Amtrak routes. Amtrak’s Chicago to San Francisco trip stops at Creston, Ottumwa, Mt Pleasant, and Burlington in the southeast corner of the state.
Des Moines, Iowa City, Dubuque, and a couple of other large cities have public bus systems that cover most of their territory. While certainly good value, the public bus is not particularly useful for tourists unless you are staying in a hotel right downtown. These routes are designed to connect residential areas to the downtown core so unless you’re headed to the suburbs, nearly every visitor rents a car when they come to town.