Description - High bluffs with scenic views of the Mississippi River, 770 acres with timbered walking trails, a unique butterfly sanctuary and an enclosed nature center are just some of the features that make Bellevue State Park so special. Located just south of the picturesque town of Bellevue, the park offers spectacular views of the river, the wildlife, and the unique butterfly garden.
The park lies in two separate tracts. The Nelson Unit is at the immediate south edge of Bellevue on U.S. 52, atop a 300 foot limestone bluff. The Dyas Unit is two miles further south on U.S. 52.
- Park Construction and Renovation
Campground electrical upgrade - campground closed. Weather dependent - campground may open by May 20, 2005. Check with park staff, 563-872-4019.
Picnickers at the Nelson Unit can enjoy beautiful views of the Mississippi River. Open picnic shelters may be reserved for a fee through the park office. The lodge is an ideal spot for group events such as wedding receptions and family events and is available on a reservation basis.
The Dyas Unit has 39 camping units (23 with electrical hookups), modern rest rooms, showers and a sanitary dumping station. Camping permits are obtained by self-registration at the campground. Camping is not allowed in the Nelson Unit.
In the Nelson Unit, four trails provide a variety of hiking opportunities. One trail leads out to scenic overlook of the Mississippi, one winds past Indian burial mounds, one wanders through a restored prairie and a "Garden Sanctuary for Butterflies", and one takes you past an old limestone rock quarry.
The Dyas Unit encompasses almost 4 miles of foot trails, scenic overlooks, a stream with beaver dams, and aquatic and other wildlife. In winter, bald eagles concentrate to feed near the open waters below Lock and Dam 12. Pileated woodpeckers are occasionally seen in isolated areas.
South Bluff Nature Center
The South Bluff Nature Center in the Nelson Unit contains a variety of interesting displays on the plants, animals and geology of Bellevue State Park. The center is open seasonally and offers a variety of programs in the summer.
The center is a remodeled golf course country club, rebuilt with mostly donated labor and supplies. It has been open to park visitors since its dedication in 1984. It is open 1:00 to 4:00 pm Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays, and by appointment. Hours may vary depending on volunteer and staff availability.
The "Garden Sanctuary for Butterflies" is located nearby. This unique area contains over one hundred separate plots, each featuring plants which provide food and habitat for butterflies. A network of pathways allows visitors to walk through the garden and see a wide variety of butterflies as well as enjoy the beautiful array of flowers and the pond in the center.
Bellevue is just north of the Nelson Unit of the park. Dubuque is 21 miles north on HWY 52.