Explore Iowa: Effigy Mounds National Monument
Effigy Mounds National Monument is the nation's foremost educational center for interpreting the earthen mounds that were built by the "Effigy Mound People," an ancient American Indian culture. Eastern Woodland Indians built mounds from about 500 B.C. until the early European contact period. Prehistoric mounds are common from the plains of the Midwest to the Atlantic seaboard, but only in this region of the Upper Midwest was there a culture that regularly constructed effigy mounds in the shape of mammals, birds or reptiles. At this site there are 31 effigy mounds, plus 175 conical, linear and compound mounds.
This National Park Service site is also important for wildlife habitat. It lies at the heart of Iowa's largest Bird Conservation Area, the new Effigy Mounds Yellow River Forest BCA, designated in 2003 by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The woodlands of this region provide significant habitat for forest-nesting and migratory birds, many of which are declining in population.
One of INHF’s most noted accomplishments was the protection of the 1,045-acre Heritage Addition to Effigy Mounds National Monument in 2000. The foundation had worked for years to create an opportunity to protect this important, unbroken woodland from development and fragmentation of the habitat. INHF spearheaded landowner negotiations, fundraising and other logistics for this project. It took more than 20 years, 1,150 donors and an act of Congress to complete the Heritage Addition.
With the addition, the National Park Service now protects 2,526 acres of habitat at Effigy Mounds. Eleven miles of trails weave in and around the forests, tall grass prairies, wetlands and rivers that cover the area. Park rangers are on hand to give guided hikes.
Planning a Visit
Recreational activities include hiking trails, guided tours, and American Indian presentations. Effigy Mounds hosts a variety of events throughout the year, some of which occur annually. For information on events like HawkWatch, the winter film fest, or bald eagle appreciation days, visit the National Park Service’s website.
151 Hwy 76, Harpers Ferry, Iowa 52146.
Effigy Mounds National Monument
151 HWY 76
Harpers Ferry, IA 52146-7519
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