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Iowa National Monuments Showcase Prairie Life Throughout History

Photo Courtesy Mines of Spain

A two-lane road divides acres of tall corn stalks dancing in a soft summer breeze. The road ahead stretches infinitely, without a bend or a rise in sight. It feels like one could set the cruise control, lean your car seat back, and sneak a few minutes of shut-eye without missing a turn or a landmark for a few dozen miles.

The sun is shining in all directions, and the blue sky is so dense that one dares not look up too long for fear of getting lost in its depth.

“Is this heaven?” A faraway memory recalls a famous line from a favorite film. “It’s Iowa.” The memory replies.

Few places in the continental United States capture the feeling of Americana quite like the “Hawkeye State.” It brings to mind fireworks, apple pie, baseball, and country fairs.

The country’s center is placed just so as if holding the disparate collection of territories together at the seams. 

It would surprise no one to learn that this vital state is one rife with history and as important to the American story of yesteryear as it is to today’s story. Many of these historical lessons, tall tales, and remembrances can be found in the National Monuments the 29th state in the Union holds within its borders.

Read on to learn more about all that Iowa has to offer!

Effigy Mounds National Monument: While not technically “heaven,” this site allows visitors to walk on truly hallowed ground. The Effigy Mounds National Monument is a collection of 200 or more Native American mounds shaped in the form of various animals considered sacred to the many Tribes. They are located in one of the most beautiful regions of the Upper Mississippi River Valley. While not scientifically conclusive, it is believed that based on mythology and legend, the mounds could delineate territorial boundaries of different Tribes and mark sacred or ceremonial spaces for the various Indigenous peoples who lived and thrived here. One truly has to see this incredible National Monument to try to understand its mystery and beauty.

Photo Courtesy NPS

Amana Colonies: This spot is a tribute to early pioneer life and European settlement. Amana Colonies’ history begins in the mid-19th century, with German Christians settling in the area in search of religious freedom after leaving their homeland. Starting first in Buffalo, New York, and then migrating to Iowa, the residents of the seven villages received a dwelling, medical care, meals, household necessities, and education for their families. Even property and resources were shared. Today, visitors can explore the villages, shop, dine, and stop in the visitors center to learn more about early life on the prairie.

Photo Courtesy Travel Iowa

Mines Of Spain: This historic landmark near Dubuque is an outdoor lover’s paradise. The Mines Of Spain Recreation Area sits on almost 1,500 acres of prime Iowa wilderness and is designated a “watchable wildlife area” due to its abundance of songbirds, wildcats, white-tailed deer, flying squirrels, and red-shouldered hawks. Additionally, it offers a bevy of seasonal outdoor activities, from hiking and picnicking in the warmer months to cross-country skiing in the winter. There is something for everyone at this amazing National Monument.

Photo Courtesy Mines of Spain 

Iowa State Capitol: Commonly known as the “Iowa Statehouse,” the capitol is the seat of power in the state and can be found in Des Moines. The Renaissance-style structure sits atop a hill and offers a panoramic view of the city. It is surrounded by various monuments and memorials, including the Soldiers and Sailors Monument and the Abraham Lincoln and Tad statue. In addition to serving as the set of government, the statehouse also houses numerous exhibits and art pieces for visitors to admire, including a model of the USS Iowa and several battle flags from various wars over the last 150 years of American military history. Guided tours are offered to learn even more about this incredible destination.

Photo Courtesy Iowa State Capitol Visitor Guide 

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