Premiere ATV Destination Gives New Life to Land & Local Economy
Located less than one mile southeast of Fort Dodge, the Gypsum City Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Park is a premier destination for All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV), dirt bike, and snowmobile riders, as well as other outdoor enthusiasts. Situated on 800-acres of land formerly mined for gypsum, it’s the largest public riding area in Iowa with approximately 70-miles of trails, fully signed and groomed, that covers varying terrain dynamics to provide a unique riding experience.
After being mined, the land was deemed unsuitable for urban development, with few possible alternative uses. The diverse topography and natural landscape of fields, hills, and cliffs made the location ideal for OHV use. Planning for the project began almost two decades ago as a collaborative effort between individuals and groups along with United States Gypsum Corporation representatives and state and local officials. Snyder & Associates was brought on board to provide civil engineering, landscape development, and master planning guidance for this ongoing and extensive project.
Phased Construction Takes Advantage of Funding Opportunities
The OHV park project was separated into three distinct construction phases to capitalize on funding opportunities as they became available. During phase one construction, over 15 miles of trails were created through an area of rolling hills and open grasslands. This phase also included the building of a motocross course, a safety training area, two youth riding areas, and a parking lot capable of accommodating 350 vehicles with trailers.
During phase two, an additional 35-miles of trails were added, as well as day-use areas that included fishing ponds, improved trail safety measures, and property fencing. Phase three consisted of the construction of an expansive campground with 33 sites, along with modern restroom and shower facilities. Most recently, our team helped the organization place an amateur supercross track on the growing list of park amenities.
Focused Collaboration Leads to Award Recognition
The Snyder & Associates team collaborated with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT), the City of Fort Dodge, Webster County Improvements Corporation, and Webster County Conservation to design and construct this one-of-kind park. Our team was also instrumental in developing the design for bringing electrical, a water main, and a force main sanitary sewer service to the park.
Representatives from the Gypsum City Off-Highway Vehicle Park accepted an Annual Achievement Award in recognition of their outstanding use of Recreational Trails Program (RTP) funds. Hosted by the Coalition for Recreation Trails, the ceremony was held in Washington, D.C. during Great Outdoors Week. At a cost of over $5.5 million, RTF funds were one of more than 27 grants that made the park possible without utilizing tax dollars.
Master Planning Efforts Continue Park Growth
As the park continues to grow and evolve, the Snyder & Associates team has remained active to help the organization create a roadmap for future development. This has included the compilation of a master plan that provides guidance for the development of future facilities, improvements to existing facilities, and how to maximize future funding and investment opportunities over the next twenty years.
Among the tools used to compile the master plan was an online public input survey that collected feedback from the public, as well as park users. Additionally, the team met with key stakeholders, business owners, and park staff to better understand potential expansion opportunities and service needs. From here, the team developed goals and the necessary components and implementation steps required to meet those goals.
Numerous improvement opportunities are detailed in the master plan, including the addition of a playground, observation platforms, picnic shelters, and wash bays, along with a desire for rental storage units, a challenge course, trail expansion, and cottage rentals, to name a few. A further finding of the plan was the benefit of creating an “OHV Friendly Community” beyond the borders of the park. This would allow off-roaders the opportunity to ride their OHV vehicles around the community on predetermined roads and paths, opening a new door of revenue streams for local retailers, restaurants, and fuel stations.
The Gypsum City OHV Park has capitalized on the growing popularity of the off-roading lifestyle and community. With expert guidance from the Snyder & Associates team, the park is well-positioned to continue to grow in the years to come.