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Effigy Mounds National Monument
IUCN Category V (Protected Landscape/Seascape)
Location Northeast Iowa, USA
Nearest city Marquette, Iowa
Coordinates 43°5′19″N 91°11′8″W / 43.08861°N 91.18556°W / 43.08861; -91.18556Coordinates: 43°5′19″N 91°11′8″W / 43.08861°N 91.18556°W / 43.08861; -91.18556
Area 2,526.39 acres (10.22 km²)
Established October 25, 1949
Visitors 88,546 (in 2005)
Governing body National Park Service
Woodland conical mounds at Effigy Mounds National Monument, Sny Magill Unit, Clayton County, Iowa.

Effigy Mounds National Monument preserves three prehistoric sites in Allamakee County and Clayton County, Iowa in the midwestern United States. The North Unit (67 mounds) and South Unit (29 mounds) are located where the counties meet along the Mississippi River. They are contiguous and easily accessible. The Sny Magill Unit (112 mounds) is approximately 11 miles (17 km) south of the other units, and offers no visitor facilities.[1]

It forms the heart of a Cluster of interrelated protected areas. It is adjacent to the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, the Driftless Area National Wildlife Refuge, the Yellow River State Forest, and a short distance to the south, Pikes Peak State Park. There are also a number of state-owned wildlife management areas, such as the one at Sny Magill Creek, where Clayton County also maintains a county park.

The Monument is also noted for being in the Driftless Area, an area of North America which escaped glaciation during the last ice age. The Park Service writes that

patchy remnants of Pre-Illinoian glacial drift more than 500,000 years old recently have been discovered in the area. Unlike the rest of Iowa, the Paleozoic Plateau was bypassed by the last of the Pleistocene glaciers (the Wisconsin), allowing the region's fast cutting streams to expose and carve out deep channels in the bedrock-dominated terrain. The area is characterized by thin loess soil cover, isolated patches of glacial drift, deeply entrenched river valleys, and karst (sinkholes, caves, and springs) topography.[2]

The adjacent National Wildlife Refuge takes its name from this region.

Great Bear mound group

Prehistoric mounds are common from the plains of the Midwest to the Atlantic seaboard, but only in this general area was there a culture that regularly constructed mounds in the shape of mammals, birds, or reptiles. The monument contains 2,526 acres (10 km²) with 206 mounds of which 31 are effigies. The others are conical, linear and compound. Woodland period Indians built mounds from about 500 BC until the early European contact period. When the American prairies were plowed under by European settlers for agriculture, many mound sites were lost. Effigy Mounds National Monument is the largest known collection of mounds in the United States.

View of the Mississippi River and western Wisconsin from Effigy Mounds National Monument in 2007

Examining the geography of the region reveals why human cultures have occupied this part of the country for so long. Historically, most of the Great Plains to the west of the Mississippi River was covered in grasslands, which are very prone to fires that keep trees from becoming established. Here in extreme northeastern Iowa, the Effigy Mounds area was a point of transition between the eastern hardwood forests and the central prairies. Native American and early settlers would have been able to draw on natural resources available in forests, wetlands, and prairies, making the site hospitable for humans for many centuries.

The visitor center, located at the park entrance, contains museum exhibits highlighting archaeological and natural specimens, an auditorium and book sales outlet. The park has eleven miles of hiking trails. No roads exist in the park. Rangers give guided hikes and prehistoric tool demonstrations, mid June through Labor Day weekend. Educational programs are presented on- and off-site by appointment.

Natural features in the monument include forests, tallgrass prairies, wetlands and rivers. There are no lodging or camping facilities in the park. Excellent camping is available at nearby Pikes Peak State Park and Yellow River State Forest in Iowa; there is also Wyalusing State Park in Wisconsin. Various primitive campgrounds exist in the area as well. The national monument is quite close to the town of Marquette, Iowa, and is just across the Mississippi River from the city of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, where ample motel and gambling-boat facilities exist.

It was proclaimed a National Monument on October 25, 1949.

Map of Effigy Mounds National Monument and the surrounding area

See also


  1. ^ National Park Service. "Effigy Mounds NM Historic Resource Study: Appendix A". Retrieved May 15, 2006.  
  2. ^ "Effigy Mounds Historic Resource Study", Chapter 3, Environment, National Park Service, Retrieved July 10, 2007

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

North America : United States of America : Midwest : Iowa : Northeast Iowa : Effigy Mounds National Monument

Effigy Mounds National Monument [1] is a United States National Monument that is located in Northeastern Iowa.


Fees are waived from November to March. From April to October, the entrance fee is $3 per adult (those 15 and over) with a maximum charge of $5 for all occupants of a private vehicle. There is no maximum for commercial vehicles.

Entrance is free with an Effigy Mounds National Monument Annual Pass, which costs $10 per year, or with any Federal Recreational Lands Pass [2].


There is no lodging or camping of any kind located within the monument. Some lodging exists in nearby Marquette, and Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, across the Mississippi River and easily accessible by a major bridge, has a number of hotels, motels and B&Bs.

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