Description - From the top of the 500-foot bluff, the confluence of the Wisconsin River and the mighty Mississippi may be seen to the south. To the north, the view of the twin suspension bridges connecting Iowa and Wisconsin is breathtaking.
Pikes Peak State Park is located in the "Paleozoic Plateau" that was missed by the glaciers that flattened and molded so much of Iowa. This area, often called the "Driftless" region, is noted for its natural beauty. Its hills and valleys offer great vistas, large timbered tracts, spring-fed streams and a natural beauty unique to northeast Iowa.
In this area, Native Americans of the Woodland Culture of 800 to 1200 A.D. sculpted earthen "effigy" mounds on ridge tops, in the shapes of animals, to celebrate their oneness with Mother Earth. Many of these mounds remain today as a monument to these people and a reminder to us that we are also of the earth.
In 1673, the first white men to see what is now Iowa, explorer Louis Joliet and Father James Marquette, reached the mouth of the Wisconsin River and beheld the great, unknown river now known as the Mississippi. After the Louisiana Purchase, the government sent Zebulon Pike in 1805 to explore the Mississippi valley and select locations suitable for military posts. Pike recognized the park site as an important, strategic point, and an excellent location for a fort. The government agreed on the vicinity but selected the prairie around Prairie du Chien (now Wisconsin) for the fort. Several years later, Pike was again sent westward by the government and named Pikes Peak in Colorado.
In 1837, Alexander McGregor established a ferry across the Mississippi River. McGregor's Landing was established at the site of the town that now bears his name. When Mrs. Munn, the grand-niece of McGregor, died, her will provided that Pikes Peak be given to the federal government as a gift. The land had been inherited from McGregor. It was later conveyed by Congress to the State of Iowa and became Pikes Peak and Point Ann State Parks in 1935. Mrs. Munn had never allowed settlers on the land and as a result, the landscape at Pikes Peak today probably does not vary much from the way it was hundreds of years ago.
Pikes Peak State Park offers excellent picnicking opportunities. Visitors can enjoy a leisurely outdoor meal and, at the same time, enjoy some of the finest views in the upper midwest from the overlooks and trail viewing platforms.
A rustic stone open picnic shelter is located in the main picnic and overlook area as well as two open "gazebo" shelters. The stone shelter may be reserved for a fee through the park manager. A playground located near the stone shelter offers fun for younger visitors. The sidewalk and shelter in the picnic-overlook area are accessible to the mobility-impaired as are the shower buildings, several overlook structures and the "effigy bear mound."
Pikes Peak State Park has an attractive campground with 77 campsites. It includes 60 electrical sites, modern shower and restroom facilities and a trailer dump station. The park concession, located just a short distance from the campground, offers a variety of refreshments, ice and souvenirs to campers and other park visitors. Camping permits are obtained by self-registration at the campground. Camping Fees can be paid at the site.
Pikes Peak State Park is a hiker's delight. On its trails, hikers can explore beautiful wooded bluffs and valleys. Along the trails, hikers will see sheer walls of Decorah limestone, and fossil remains including brachiopods, gastropods and cephalopods. The trail goes past Bridal Veil Falls, a refreshing spring. The other trail leading to the Point Ann overlooks and the town of McGregor offers an invigorating hike with breathtaking views. An exercise trail is located at the edge of the campground.
Mountain bikes are allowed on a portion of the trail system running from Homestead Park to McGregor Parking.
Other Nearby Recreation Sites
Effigy Mounds National Monument, 7 miles north on Iowa 76. Villa Louis Historical Site, Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. Ft. Crawford Medical Museum, Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge District Office and Visitor Center, between McGregor and Marquette. Yellow River State Forest, 17 miles north on Iowa 76
The towns of McGregor and Marquette, Iowa, located 2 to 3 miles north of the park offer a variety of sight-seeing, shopping and dining opportunities. Garnavillo and Guttenberg are both located about 10 miles south of the park.
Follow County Road X-56 at the south end of McGregor's Main Street, wind upward about 1.5 miles, and you arrive at Pikes Peak State Park, the highest bluff on the Mississippi River. Pikes Peak, in the heart of one of the nation's most picturesque regions, offers a unique combination of scenic beauty, history, and outdoor recreation opportunity.