Exploring Pikes Peak State Park in McGregor, Iowa

With bluffs that tower 500 feet over the confluence of the Wisconsin River and the Mississippi River, Pikes Peak State Park is one the most photographed locations in the state of Iowa. It’s also home to one of only a few natural waterfalls in the state. There are also over 11 miles of trails with plenty of scenic views of the Mississippi River.

Address: 32264 Pikes Peak Rd, McGregor, IA 52157

History of Pikes Peak State Park

The original inhabitants were the Native Americans from the Woodland Culture dating back to 800AD. The first Europeans to explore the area were Joliet and Marquette in 1673. In 1805, the US government sent Lt. Zebulon Pike to explore the upper Mississippi River. Pike recognized the importance of the location and wanted the government to build a fort at the location. The fort was never built here, it was built at Prairie du Chien. In fact, Pikes Peak State Park was never developed. Not by the early explorers or anyone since. As you walk the trails through the park, you are seeing the landscape just as it has always been. And if you’re wondering if there’s a connection with the famous Pikes Peak in Colorado – yes, this is the same Zebulon Pike who explored this area of Iowa and eventually moved on to Colorado.

Scenic Overlooks at Pikes Peak State Park

There are two scenic overlook locations near the parking at Pikes Peak State Park, both are handicap accessible.
A drone photo showing the largest (triangular-shaped) scenic overlook sticking out from the trees, showing the view of where the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers meet up.
The upper deck of the largest scenic overlook is handicap accessible and stands 500 feet over the Mississippi River.
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A short video showing the walk up to the scenic overlooks at Pikes Peak State Park
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A short drone video showing the two scenic overlooks that are close to the parking lot.

Bridal Veil Falls Trail

If you’re looking for a great, yet short hike, I highly recommend the Bridal Veil Falls trail at Pikes Peak State Park in McGregor, Iowa. From the parking lot to Bridal Veil Falls and back is just one mile. The trail is almost entirely a wooden boardwalk which is well-maintained. However, be aware that there are a large number of steps leading down the falls, which means you have a large number of steps going up to get back to the parking lot.

The trail starts just to the north of the scenic overlooks. At first, the path is pavement but then changes to a wooden boardwalk. Along the start of the path, the first thing you’ll notice is Bear Mound, an effigy built by the Native Americans dating back to nearly 1000AD. In fact, there are over 60 mounds total within Pikes Peak State Park.

When the trail turns from pavement to the wooden board walk, there are several side boardwalks that provide overlooks into the Mississippi River valley.
About a quarter of the way down to the falls, you’ll see this landing area called the Crows Nest, which has another scenic overlook of the Mississippi River.

Right after the Crows Nest, that’s where the largest number of steps kicks into gear.
A photo taken from above the Bridal Veil Falls Trail, showing how the wooden boardwalk guides you directly to the waterfall (which is on the far left of this photo)
The wooden boardwalk directs you to Bridal Veil Falls, one of Iowa’s few natural waterfalls. There’s also a boardwalk that takes you above the falls.
During peak leaf season, the wooden boardwalk along Bridal Veil Trail is an ideal place for photographing the fall colors.

A view from under Bridal Veil Falls at Pikes Peak State Park in McGregor, Iowa
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A short video showing you the entire path along Bridal Veil Falls Trail at Pikes Peak State Park in McGregor, Iowa


In 2023, the campgrounds were completely renovated. They have 60 spots available, both with and without electrical. Reservations can be made online.

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