As you explore miles of pet trails at Effigy Mounds National Monument, admire the views and 206 famous prehistoric mounds protected by the park.
Standing on top of a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, it’s easy to see why Native Americans chose to make this breathtaking place their home. With the abundance of the river at their feet, the wildlife around, the rich soil for crops, the views of miles and eagles towering over them, it’s hard to imagine a more perfect location. Fortunately, the pet-friendly Effigy Mounds National Monument is now a wonderful place for people and their pets to explore together!
Pets Effigy Mounds National Monument
Located along the Great River Road, in the northeast corner of Iowa, the pet-friendly Effigy Mounds offers visitors the opportunity to go back in time. Covering 2,500 acres on the west bank of the Mississippi River, the Yellow River divides the park into northern and southern parts. Both sections have nice trails to explore and a variety of mounds to explore.
READ MORE ⇒ Travel with pets on the Great River Road – from Minneapolis to New Orleans
A lasting legacy
To imagine what the life of the monstrous builders was like was both inspiring and discouraging. Evidence shows that they were hunter-gatherers, gathering wild rice, acorns, fruits and berries from their summer camps high on the rock escarpments, and hunting deer and elk in the nearby river valleys where they spent their winters. It may sound like a difficult existence, but people are thriving. So much so that about 2,500 years ago they started building mounds.
The Indians built mounds at different times and for different reasons in America, but most are concentrated in the valleys of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. The ancients who lived here in Iowa built conical mounds, round domes on the ground 2 to 8 feet high and 10 to 20 feet high, to bury their dead.
Let it sink for a minute … with the help of stone and bone tools, carrying dirt in woven baskets, they took time away from tasks that helped them survive to build mounds for their dead. This speaks volumes about the importance of these formations in their culture.
Evolution of mounds in images
About 1,400 years ago, people in this area began building more complex mounds. Long, narrow “linear” mounds, “complex” mounds that combine conical and linear mounds, and “monstrous” mounds that look like animals. These new types of mounds are much rarer – they exist only in this corner of the upper Midwest.
The construction of the mound lasted about 550 years and then archaeologists believe that a great cultural transition has taken place. People began to live in larger, permanent villages and spent more time in agriculture. This way of life lasted for another 500 years, and then in the late 1600s European researchers reached this field.
The fur trade between the Indians, the French, and the British flourished in the mid-1800s. And in the 1940s, American settlers began arriving, cutting wood, plowing, and turning the land into farmland. In the process, they destroyed thousands of mounds. In a hundred years, less than 1,000 remained.
Visit to Effigy Mounds
The Effigy Mounds National Monument was established as part of conservation efforts, protecting 206 prehistoric mounds, 31 of which are in the shape of animals. There is a deep sense of peace and timelessness here – not surprising, as this sacred land has been blessed by generations of Indians.
The park also offers ranger-led tours, mostly during the summer months. Well-behaved pets that will not disturb the presentation are welcome to join you. Fortunately, the ranger did not accept Ty’s snoring as a comment on the discussion, and we were able to recall. We learned a lot and if you have the opportunity to participate, we highly recommend it!
Pets at the Effigy Mounds National Monument
Occasional pets can enjoy the parks and trails with you, as long as they are cleaned afterwards. Please be respectful of the mounds – neither you nor your pets should walk on them.
Rules for pets at the Effigy Mounds National Monument
Leashes are needed Pet waste must be picked up and disposed of properly Pets cannot enter the park buildings, including the visitor center
The paths are covered with sawdust and are easy to navigate, even with Ty’s stroller. We headed north from the Visitor Center, climbing it for a short but steep climb to the top of the bluff. Once at the top, the elevation changes were minor, the trail was shady and the views were worth the effort!
Following the path to the north, about a mile led us to the Great Bear Mound. This is the largest remaining image in Iowa, 137 feet long and 70 feet wide.
Our only regret is that we failed to see the whole park! But this would be difficult to achieve in one day. And now we can expect to visit again.
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