The Iowa Great River Road is a trip like no other. In this northeastern corner of the state, the Mississippi traverses a picturesque landscape formed of high rocky bluffs and deep, narrow limestone gorges. Steep-sided, rolling hills are covered with oak, hickory, maple and basswood trees that burst into a palette of bright colors each fall. Soaring eagles, hawks and other natural wildlife will awe you as they frolic against a spectacular scenic backdrop. The river is an enormous recreational source, offering easy access and diverse resources to accommodate those interested in fishing, pleasure boating and water skiing. Hiking, biking and horseback riding can also be enjoyed along the river's edge.
Each community along the Great River Road has many hidden treasures to share. In Allamakee County, you will pass through the quaint river communities of New Albin, Lansing and Harpers Ferry. As you make your way to each of these towns, you will pass by several unique attractions, including the Fish Farm Mounds State Preserve where you'll find more than two dozen mounds arrayed on a terrace that overlooks the Mississippi River; the Yellow River State Forest, which encompasses more than 6,500 acres of timbered hills and valleys and is an ideal setting for hiking, fishing and primitive camping; and Paint Rock Bluff, which was once an important navigational aide for riverboat pilots. The communities themselves are full of hidden treasures, including several National Historic Register Sites such as the 12- Sided Barn built in 1914, the Old County Courthouse and the Lansing Stone School. The sweeping view from Lansing's city park atop the 400-foot-high Mt. Hosmer is also a site not to be missed!
Along the Great River Road in Clayton County, you'll find the historic communities of Marquette, McGregor, Clayton and Guttenberg. Again, you will discover several roadside attractions as you meander alongside the Mighty Mississippi, including Effigy Mounds National Monument, home to some 200 prehistoric earthen mounds; the Upper Mississippi Wildlife and Fish Refuge, which protects the natural north-south migration route for hundreds of species of birds and waterfowl; Pike's Peak State Park, one of the highest bluffs along the Mississippi; and the Lock and Dam #10 and the last remaining lockmaster's house on the Upper Mississippi River. Marquette, McGregor and Guttenberg all hold the honor of being an Iowa Great Place and are treasure troves of architectural splendor, natural beauty and warm hospitality.