Iowa May 07, 2017
Iowa Has A Grand Canyon And It’s Too Beautiful For Words
Iowa isn’t exactly famous for its dramatic terrain. We do have our own little Grand Canyon of sorts. It doesn’t compare to the real thing, of course. Here in the flatter part of the Midwest, it’s a great place to go for some of the most stunning views in the state.
Pikes Peak State Park has the tallest bluff on the Mississippi River. It's one of Iowa's most prized scenic attractions.
The mesmerizing views of barges moving down the Mississippi River, eagles flying overhead, and even the occasional foggy sunrise keep visitors coming back for more of this amazing natural wonder.
Pikes Peak is a 500-foot bluff that sits at 1,130 foot elevation.
It offers stunning views of the confluence of the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers.
The park covers almost 1,000 acres and is rich in history.
This beautiful area of Iowa offers some important insight into the geological history of the region. Erosion along the rivers here expose more rock as time goes on. The geologic history of Pikes Peak State Park began more than 500 million years ago.
The earliest recorded historic residents of the area were Native Americans, as shown by the hundreds of mounds in valleys and on ridge tops.
Many of these mounds are shaped like animals. Miners, hunters, and trappers also inhabited the area as early as the 1600's.
Shortly after the area became part of the United States with the Louisiana territory purchase in 1803, it was explored by Zebulon Pike, who identified it (along with Pikes Peak in Colorado) as an ideal location for a military fort.
Shortly after, the area was developed with roads and small towns. The area has a colorful history, and even visitors who spend time in this state park frequently find that they learn something new or discover a different area of the park each time they stop by.
The lookout point offers easily accessible and stunning views of the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers.
This is a great place for a picnic. It's a beautiful vantage point during every season.
Depending on the weather conditions, fog may be present.
Although it obstructs the view, it also adds a unique element of mystery to the park.
Many visitors find that the most beautiful time of year at Pikes Peak State Park is autumn.
On a clear day you can see across the river into Wisconsin's Wyalusing State Park.
Most of the park's most interesting features are within easy walking distance of the campground.
There are 77 shady and level campsites at Pikes Peak located on top of a bluff.
The trail system is 11.6 miles long and there are three trail head areas.
One is located near Point Ann at the McGregor parking lot. There's another at the Homestead parking area just off of Great River Road. At the high point of the park on the south side, there are also multiple trail heads in a cluster.
There are ten trails, some are easier than others.
One of the most popular is Chinquapin Ridge Trail. This 2.5-mile trail starts at the McGregor parking area and goes along the ridge. The Mississippi River is to the east, and in many places it's visible through the trees.
Weeping Rock Trail is just under 2 miles and it connects the south and north trail systems. This trail is great for catching a glimpse of wildlife.
Water seeps out of the rocks along the ravines on this trail, and you'll walk under a dense tree canopy.
The hiking trails on the north side of the park are rugged and there are usually fewer people on them at any given time.
There is a 400-foot elevation change on the trails between Homestead parking lot and McGregor parking lot, so be prepared to hike up and down some hills.
What’s your favorite state park in Iowa for the best dramatic scenery? Let us know all about it in the comments.