Effigy Mounds National Monument Travel Guide

  • Visitors Center
    Visitors Center
    by Basaic
  • Museum Display
    Museum Display
    by Basaic
  • Great Bear Mound
    Great Bear Mound
    by Basaic

Effigy Mounds National Monument Things to Do

  • Fire Point Trail

    We enjoyed this two mile hike in the North Unit of Effigy Mounds National Monument on an absolutely glorious spring morning. Although it is said to take about one hour, we took two, so we could soak up twice as much of this special place. There are 10 stops along the trail, beginning at the Visitor Center. These are marked and numbered with ground...

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  • Little Bear Effigy Mound

    This mound, outlined in small pebbles, represents a four-legged animal that is facing downriver, as are many of the other effigy mounds in this region. Very few effigy mounds were used for burials and therefore probably had some other symbolic or ceremonial purpose. No burials have been found in this mound, but a fire pit was located in the "heart"...

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  • Fire Point

    Between Little Bear/Great Bear and Fire Point, there is a long row of conical mounds. These round mounds are by far the most prevalent in the park. They almost lead like an arrow to Fire Point. At this point in the hike, you can gaze over the fence to look at the Mighty Mississippi. We were here in the fall and the colors were very pretty. The best...

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  • Hike to Great Bear Mound Group

    As you leave the visitor center, there's only one trail that you can make anywhere from 2 to 7 miles depending on what you want to see. We decided to just limit ourselves to the loop that included Little Bear, Great Bear and Fire Point.The first quarter mile or so is uphill with numerous switch backs. While this isn't exactly mountain climbing, you...

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  • Connical Mounds

    The majority of the mounds in Effigy Mounds National Monument are not animal shaped at all but are simply conical. Here on a high blufftop overlooking the Mississippi River, is a row of several conical mounds. These are the oldest and most numerous mounds in the area, dating back about 3,000 years. These 16 mounds are about two to four feet high...

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  • River Valley Board Walks

    Boardwalks have been built for the trails at Effigy Mounds National Monument in the wet lower portions of the Mississippi and Yellow River Valleys. This area seemed particularly rewarding for bird watchers. In fact, on the Sunday morning we were there we encountered a birding club group of about a dozen people, with their binoculars and bird...

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  • Spring Wildflowers

    When we were at Effigy Mounds in mid-May the spring wildflowers along the trail were abundant. Among the many species we saw growing in the rich damp woods were Red Columbine (pictured), Wild Sweet William, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Mayapple, Dutchman's Breeches and more.

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  • Effigy Mounds: South Unit

    Because of time constraints we were only able to visit the North Unit of Effigy Mounds National Monument on this trip. This picture is a view from the North Unit across the Yellow River, with the Mississippi on the left, to the South Unit. Enlarge the picture and you can see the railroad tracks crossing the Yellow River.In the South Unit is the...

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  • Mississippi River from Fire Point...

    The splendid view from Fire Point, across the Mississippi River, was our reward for the one mile uphill hike from the Visitor Center. From here the trail loops around and descends to its beginning point.The highest point on the right side of the river is Pikes Peak State Park. Across the river, from Pike's Peak is the mouth of the Wisconsin River...

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