National Parks of Iowa

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Iowa is a Midwestern state located along the Mississippi River. The state is nicknamed the “Hawkeye State” after the character in the Last of the Mohicans book. There is currently two National Park Service Site in Iowa and two associated sites.

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Official National Parks of Iowa

  • Effigy Mounds National Monument
  • Herbert Hoover National Historic Site

Associated sites of Iowa

  • Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
  • Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail

Map of National Parks in Iowa

Iowa Placeholder
Iowa

Iowa National Parks

Effigy Mounds National Monument

Effigy Mounds National Monument protects more than 200 prehistoric Native American mounds.  The mounds are raised piles of earth.  They usually form a stylized animal, human, or other symbols.  In Effigy Mounds, these prehistoric earthworks are mostly shaped like birds and bears.  These mounds were built by the Woodland Culture about 1,000 years ago.  The Culture flourished between 1000 BC to AD 1000.

Visitors to Effigy Mounds National Monument can explore the North and South units of the park.  The park lies within Allamakee and Clayton counties. Most of the mounds require hiking out to them.   The famed Marching Bear Group is located in the South Unit and is a 4-mile hike.  The Great Bear Mound Group is a 3-mile hike in the North Unit.  Please respect this area and leave all artifacts and bones where you find them.

Effigy Mounds National Monument was created on October 25, 1949.

Photo Credit : NPS

Herbert Hoover National Historic Site

Herbert Hoover National Historic Site provides a look into the life of President Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of the United States from 1929 to 1933. Hoover lived in West Branch, Iowa for the first 11 years of his life.  After the death of his parents, Hoover left West Branch to live with relatives in Oregon.  The birthplace cottage was sold into private hands.  The site became a tourist attraction when Hoover was nominated for President.  Hoover’s family acquired the area and developed a park recreating Hoover’s childhood.

Visitors to the site have the opportunity to visit Herbert Hoovers Presidential Library and Museum, his childhood home, a blacksmith shop similar to the own owned by his father, and several other buildings. On a quiet hillside in the park, President Hoover is buried along with his wife.  The park also features a tallgrass prairie with several short hiking trails.

Photo Credit – Dough Kerr, CC BY-SA 2.0

Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail

The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail follows the route Meriwether Lewis and William Clark took across the United States’ newly purchased territory.  The trail starts at Camp Dubois, Illinois and passes through Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and ends in Washington.  The trail is a combination of auto, land and water routes.

The Lewis and Clark expedition started in May 1804 with the goal to find a practical route across the western region of North America. They were to lay claim to these lands to limit European expansion.  The expedition was a success.  Lewis and Clark crossed the Louisiana purchase and made it to the Pacific Ocean.  They recorded the plants, animals, and landscapes as they traveled.  They laid the foundations for future relationships with the American Indian tribes of the relationships.

The trail was established on November 10, 1978.  There are over 100 stops along the trail.

Photo Credit – NPS

Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail

Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail follows the 1,300-mile route many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints traveled from Nauvoo, Illinois to Salt Lake City, Utah.  Between 1846 and 1868, over 14,000 Mormons followed their leader Brigham Young west to build a new settlement.  From Council Bluffs, Iowa to Fort Bridger, Wyoming the Mormon Trail combines with the California and Oregon Trail.  The Mormons were forced out of their early settlements due to conflict with other settlers.

The trail runs through Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Utah.  Today, the trail is mostly an autoroute.  The route stops in several other National Parks Sites such as Chimney Rock National Historic Site, Scotts Bluff National Monument and Fort Laramie National Historic Site.

Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail was established on November 10, 1978.

Photo Credit – NPS

View all the National Park Service Sites in neighboring states:

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Jennifer Melroy

    Jennifer is a long time national park blogger and the founder of National Park Obsessed. She is a dedicated National Park lover who is working on visiting all 62 US National Parks. She has currently been to 53 of the National Parks. She is dedicated to sharing her knowledge of the Parks with others and helping them learn to love the parks as much as she does.

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