“ Address: 151 Minnesota 76 / Harpers Ferry, Iowa / United States „
Effigy Mounds National Monument
151 Highway 76,Harpers Ferry,IA 52146
WE drove along the Great River road from Dubuque northwards crossing back and forth depending what was interesting on our map.
This was not the most exciting place we stopped but as we were here and it is apparently Iowa's ONLY national Monument. That probably says quite a lot about Iowa! President Harry Truman signed a proclamation establishing Effigy Mounds National Monument in1949.
Prior to seeing the note on our map I knew nothing about these mounds other than they were for burial and belonged to prehistoric native people. These mounds are found in many places but Iowa's are unique in that they are in the shape of animals. They are also unspoiled whereas many have been lost when white people settled and began farming. Luckily these are in a protected forest area close to the Mississippi river and have managed to be unharmed over the years. They are now protected of course and you are able to walk around and see them and appreciate them as ancient burial monuments.
They are very old and were probably built way back about 500BC so have done well to survive all that time. Ther animal mounds are fewer than the basic mounds and there are only about thirty of the animal shaped ones out of a total of about two hundred in this area so they must have been special people I would imagine.
The Visitor centre is free and open most of the year around and is well worth visiting as it gives you the story of what the mounds are, who built them and a bit about how they might have lived. There are rangers there and you can go for ranger guided hikes of varying lengths. At the centre you can grab a map so you know where to head to see the mounds
The area is beautiful and the walk to the first mounds is clearly marked and not that far. We were a bit pushed for time so we headed for the bear mound group going northward from the visitor centre and was probably around two miles round trip. It gave us an idea of the mounds, allowed us to stretch our legs and get some fresh air before driving onward along the Great River Road.
The mounds were interesting but did look a bit like grass covered mounds and you needed to get a bit higher to see the shapes. If I hadn't known what they were I probably wouldn't have noticed them so good job I had the map with me.
I wouldn't say these are a must see attraction but if you are interested in history and archeology then you might be more inspired. It is a nice walk and the scenery is beautiful along there so worth it just for the pleasant scenic walk.