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Effigy Mounds National Monument


No visit to Allamakee county would be complete without stopping at Iowa's only national monument, the Effigy Mounds. There are 210 known prehistoric American Indian mounds within the borders of the park, 31 of which are shaped in the likeness (effigy) of bears or birds. From the overlooks at Fire Point, Twin Views, and Hanging Rock visitors are awed by the majestic expanse of the Upper Mississippi River Refuge. Hiking to these quiet and scenic points it is easy to understand why the people of the Woodland culture believed the ridgelines of these bluffs to be the ideal location for special cultural monuments. Effigy Mounds National Monument protects 206 prehistoric mounds, 31 of which are in the form of animal effigies. Between 600 AD and 1300 AD American Indians constructed these earthen mounds. Archaeologists believe they may have served significant ceremonial purpose. Some mounds were used as burial sites and others, like compound mounds, may have signified members of a family group. It is possible the effigies in the shapes of bears and eagles were totems to animal spirits or distinct territorial markers. The visitor center is a good place to start your visit of this scenically beautiful and archaeologically rich 2,500-acre monument. Tour the museum, learn about the men and women that called the Mississippi Valley home 1400 years ago, find out about ranger-guided hikes and pick up a site map. The trailhead for the North Unit of mounds begins just outside the visitor center. Trail routes vary from two to seven miles and are well-groomed. The trailhead for the South Unit is south of the visitor center off highway 76. The monument is within an Audubon Important Bird Area and encompasses remnant oak savanna, reconstructed prairie and mixed deciduous forest, making the hikes not only an opportunity to discover a complex human history, but a chance to experience the stunning natural features of the Driftless Area.


Jane kinney

Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018
The visitor center was really nice. The staff was very friendly and helpful. Had a nice little museum about the area. The trails are well maintained and the mounds are easy to see. Nice wooden walk way over the wetlands that is handicap accessible. Lots of birds and it's nature at it's best. Great place to visit.

Pamela Moffit

Sunday, July 22, 2018
Nice to do once, but wouldn't go back here. As far as truly seeing the outline of the mounds you'd need a platform for a view to look down on them, that's not possible here. Cahokia mounds near St. Louis have better viewing. Consider it a moderate to more strenuous 3/4 - mile hike up the bluff, only one place to sit half way up the steep walk and then another bench at the top. Take water on a hot and humid day in Iowa. Better views of the Mississippi and hiking can be done at Pikes Peak Park just south of here.

Emily Wolff

Sunday, April 22, 2018
What an amazing park. The hike is beautiful with the mounds breathtaking. So much history. It’s an amazing place to pay respect To some amazing people. Plus, the views of the river are outstanding. I have never seen so many Bald Eagles in one place. Plus, Pikes speak Campground is 20 minutes down the road and is outstanding. Will for sure be back!

Robin Bissell

Friday, June 29, 2018
Beautiful place. Not all trails are wheelchair assisable. Wear sturdy shoes and allow plenty of time if you plan on visiting Hanging Rock. The view from there is amazing. The trails are well marked.

Jennifer Auten

Friday, July 6, 2018
Beautiful historical scenic area right off the Mississippi River. Hiking trails & experienced employees trained with bountiful knowledge & willing to answer most questions of this historical area. Words don't do this place justice. In my opinionThis isn't something to rush through. Make sure you plan ahead. Good comfortable walking shoes will make this more enjoyable. Take yoyr time it's very well worth your visit you'll be thankful you stopped here.

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