Last summer, I took my boys to visit the Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend, Iowa. It is a little over 2 hours northwest of Des Moines. It is an easy drive through a very pretty part of Iowa. I turned on my podcasts and we enjoyed taking our time to get there.
We left Des Moines late morning and arrived around their museum-opening time. We walked around the entire place twice and then visited the church on the same property. There was another grotto in there.
After a lot of walking and stair climbing, we ate our picnic lunch on tables near a nice pond next to the grotto. After lunch, we visited the museum to learn about the process of building the Grotto and we were impressed to learn that the stones, minerals, and shells literally came from all over the world!
Quick tip: I highly recommend packing a picnic lunch as there are not many dining options nearby. On the way home, we stopped in Boone for dinner.
What is the Grotto?
Their website says, “The Grotto is frequently considered the “Eighth Wonder of the World” and The Iowan magazine has described the Grotto as a miracle in stone.”
The word “grotto” means cave and can be natural or man-made. We enjoyed learning that the grotto was made by a German man, Father Paul Matthias Dobberstein, in the early 1900s.
Imagine a series of cave-like rooms, each with a different theme from the Bible, covered entirely with shells, stones, and minerals. The detail is truly breathtaking!
It is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There is a gift shop, office, and museum with hours that can be viewed on their website.
Our Overall Impression
This place does not disappoint! The design and the intricate work telling the story of Christ’s life and resurrection is amazing. One of the parts I enjoyed the most was the stillness. It is hard to explain. While it was fairly busy, it was so peaceful. The boys loved it and I’m glad I waited until they were this age to appreciate the Grotto.
While I think seeing this grotto would be enjoyable by anyone, regardless of faith, I think people who know about the life of Christ would be most likely to appreciate all aspects.
Learn more about this incredible place at https://www.westbendgrotto.com/.