Near the entrance was a really cool evergreen. It had lots of big heavy cones hanging down on droopy branches. We asked inside later but the Rangers didn't even know what I was talking about. It's a cool tree--don't know why other people haven't asked about it before. One said it was a blue spruce, but we don't think so. So at this point it's a mystery tree. Maybe you know what it is? (There are more pictures on the link below.)
The mounds are sacred as an Indian burial and ceremonial ground. First mounds we saw were just outside the Visitor Center. There are three conical mounds here. They're probably the oldest ones. This is one of the few where there's a platform, so you can actually pick out the mounds. It gets harder...
- conical--which are just domes of earth covered with grass
- linear--longer, sort of an elongated oval
- compound--2-7 conical mounds joined by linear mounds, almost like a connected set of dumbbells
- effigy mounds--in the shapes of animals
In the 1800s a survey located over 10,000 mounds in this part of Iowa. But most of them got logged and plowed up in the next hundred years, so there are fewer than 1,000 left. Hence, this park.
About 6 miles south of Effigy Mounds is Pikes Peak State Park. (No, not the one in Colorado!) Father Marquette and Louis Jolliet were here in 1673 (Father Marquette NM). Lt. Zebulon Pike was here in 1805. (I think he must have gone to Colorado next.) The bluff on the Iowa side is 500' above the river--not much of a peak, but you can see where the Wisconsin River flows into the Mississippi.
Effigy Mounds Natl Monument