First discovered in 1673 by Father Marquette and Louis Joliet, the city of Marquette has seen many changes over the years. At one time, it boasted the biggest railroad terminal in the State of Iowa. Today, the city is known for welcoming visitors. Located just south of the busy Effigy Mounds National Monument, Marquette is growing in its popularity with tourists.
Visitors to Northeast Iowa are drawn to the Mississippi River. Two overlooks immediately come to mind-- Mt. Hosmer City Park in Lansing, and Pikes Peak State Park just south of McGregor. Both of these scenic river overlooks have their unique attributes. Pikes Peak is known for a great view featuring the convergence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers. Mt. Hosmer is known for its three-state panorama and its superb view of the iconic Black Hawk Bridge.
While both of these are terrific reasons to search out river overlooks, the real buzz this year is Marquette's big additions. The city recently completed the Emma Big Bear Trail Scenic Overlook and Shelter, along with a River Board Walk that stretches 130 feet out over the Mighty Mississippi.
Note: The Emma Bear Overlook has a walkway connecting directly to the hotel and provides an attractive area for that afternoon picnic (you can also drive up to it).
The River Board Walk is earning a reputation as the place to sit back and take in the wonders of the river front, without actually being out on the water. It's a perfect spot to include for day-trippers and heritage travelers alike.
As we look south down the Iowa River Road, Guttenberg's overlooks provide expansive views of its island neighborhood and Mississippi River valley. Guttenberg's North Overlook features breathtaking views, while their Roadside Overlook features the "Honey Lady" (bring your wallet, as there may be homemade jams/jellies).
HINT: As long as you will be that far south, take the time to find the Balltown Scenic Overlook in Balltown for superb photo ops of an Iowa farm valley.
While traveling to multiple overlooks might seem redundant to some, many find it’s a great way to learn a comprehensive geography of the area. You may find yourself daydreaming about the travels of Marquette and Joliet, or picturing Julien Dubuque coming down the Wisconsin River in 1783 in search of his lead mining treasures. Or you may find yourself listening for the Meskwakie Tribe, as they travelled the river and lived along its banks.
Beginning in Lansing atop Mount Hosmer and ending at the Balltown Scenic Overlook in Balltown, this trek spans 70 miles. There are more outlooks along the way, many of them mostly known to local residents. Make sure to pack the camera. You're going to enjoy this day trip.