Riders tend to stay in the overnight communities to experience the local atmosphere and entertainment, but 2022 RAGBRAI XLIX participants who want to get away from the heat and crowds have some casino options once they set up camp.
Between 15,000-20,000 riders, team members and support staff will take part in the 49th edition of RAGBRAI. The touring bicycle ride is a west-to-east rolling migration across the state each year.
Fast facts about RAGBRAI XLIX
- Routes vary annually.
- RAGBRAI announced its 2022 overnight towns on Jan. 29.
- Organizers released the event map with ride-through towns on March 27.
- RAGBRAI XLIX is July 23–30.
- Here’s how to register for part or all of the ride.
- The weeklong registration deadline is closed, but riders and teams can still piece together day passes to get across the state.
Emmetsburg — home to one of three Wild Rose casinos — is the only “casino town” on the 2022 route. The northwest Iowa city is the overnight stop to end Day 3 of the ride.
There are still ways to unwind at a casino after a day in the elements, however. The route begins and ends with some easy side trips for RAGBRAIers who want to pull on a slot lever after gripping handlebars all day.
Four best bets for a bet during RAGBRAI
Ahead of Day 1 — As you arrive in Sergeant Bluff
RAGBRAI XLIX opens with a Sergeant Bluff-to-Ida Grove leg on Sunday, July 24. Each mile you cover along the Day 1 route will take you farther away from a casino on Iowa’s western border. Therefore, riders might want to plan their casino visit as an opener to the weeklong ride. Late July heat can be brutal, so hydrate and carb up during your casino visit.
Your nearest options are:
- Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Sioux City — The casino is just eight miles away from the starting city. The venue includes 850 slot machines, 25 table games and a sportsbook, plus restaurants and overnight lodging.
- WinnaVegas Casino Resort in Sloan — If you want a more rural setting for gaming, WinnaVegas, a tribal casino west of Sloan, is another option. It features slots, table games, bingo and poker as well as food and lodging. The casino is about 17 miles from Sergeant Bluff.
Once you arrive in Ida Grove at the end of Day 1, the nearest casinos will all be 50 miles away or more. You might need to use WiFi for some remote sports bets instead.
After Day 2 and Day 3 of RAGBRAI XLIX — Pocahontas to Emmetsburg
As the RAGBRAI route turns north, a northwest Iowa casino becomes a reasonable support vehicle side trip for casino enthusiasts. The Wild Rose Casino in Emmetsburg is about 30 miles north of the overnight stop in Pocahontas to end Day 2.
Day 3 happens to end in Emmetsburg, so Wild Rose Casino can be a big part of the welcome for thousands of riders and their support teams. Visitors will find slot machines, table games, off-track betting and a retail sportsbook in Emmetsburg.
End of Day 4 — Emmetsburg to Mason City
The Diamond Jo Worth County Casino is just a 28-mile drive from Mason City to the casino near Northwood.
The resort caters to outdoor enthusiasts including golfers, but poker, table games and about 1,000 slots are climate-controlled options as RAGBRAI teams recharge.
The next two legs of the ride — from Mason City to Charles City and from Charles City to West Union — have a bit more distance from casinos. The Casino Queen Marquette is a 43-mile drive from West Union. Riders who wait a day will be even closer, however.
End of the RAGBRAI XLIX in Lansing
Casinos tend to pop up near state lines in Iowa, so riders who finish the cross-state ride can celebrate with a casino trip if they want. Casino Queen Marquette is just 27 miles away from Lansing.
Background on the touring bicycle festival
It’s a RAGBRAI tradition for riders to dip their back tire into the Missouri River at the start of the ride. Riders dip their front tire into the Mississippi River once they complete the cross-state journey.
RAGBRAI began in 1973 as an idea and informal challenge between newspapermen at the Des Moines Register. Writer and copy editor John Karras thought “Over the Coffee” columnist Don Kaul should ride a bicycle across Iowa and write columns about his encounters along the way.
Kaul liked the idea, but only if Karras joined him on the trek across Iowa. With that, RAGBRAI — the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa — was born.
About 300 people met Karras and Kaul in Sioux City. RAGBRAI says 114 riders made the inaugural river-to-river trip across Iowa.