I found The Shire, and it's in Iowa!
Okay, so it's not really The Shire. It's actually the Loess Hills State Forest in western Iowa. But when I looked out over this landscape a few days ago, it wasn't too hard to imagine that I had stepped into the world of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.
Beautiful, no? One of the midwest's hidden gems.