Upper Iowa River
|Upper Iowa River|
Mouth of the Upper Iowa at floodstage, January 18, 2001, looking approximately west
|Districts||Allamakee County, Iowa, Winneshiek County, Iowa, Howard County, Iowa, Fillmore County, Minnesota, Mower County, Minnesota|
|- elevation||620 ft (189 m)|
|Length||156 mi (251 km)|
|U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Upper Iowa River|
Its headwaters are in southeastern Minnesota, in Mower County (Le Roy and Lodi townships) near the border with Iowa. It then flows through the Iowa counties of Howard, Winneshiek, and Allamakee, and finally into the Upper Mississippi River. Along its course, it passes through the Iowa cities of Chester, Lime Springs, Florenceville, Kendallville, and Decorah. Its watershed comprises nearly 641,000 acres (2,590 km2).
The Upper Iowa and its tributaries are part of the Driftless Area of Iowa, a region that was ice-free during the last ice age. Unlike areas to the south and west, the area was not planed down by glaciation or covered in glacial drift, with the result that there are steep, high-walled canyons that little resembles what one normally sees in Iowa rivers in the western and southern regions of the state. The lack of any serious development makes this the only river in Iowa eligible for designation as a National Wild and Scenic River. It has not yet attained this status, partly because much of the land and the riverbottom itself are privately owned.
It is an excellent river for canoeing, taking paddlers through the scenic bluff country. Many put their canoes in at Kendallville or down river from there, but some more intrepid paddlers prefer to start at Lime Springs by the Lidtke Mill or at Florenceville.
In April 2007, the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation announced the purchase of 1,224 acres (5 km2) of additional land; currently off limits to the public, stabilization and restoration work will be done to the riverbank, with removal of non-native vegetation and replanting with more appropriate species.
The Upper Iowa was sometimes historically called the "Iowa River", creating confusion with the larger Iowa River to the south. The Upper Iowa was also called the "Oneota River", and the large number of Late Prehistoric sites along its bluffs caused the early archaeologist Charles R. Keyes to name the Oneota Culture for the river.
- Decorah crater, a 470-million-year-old meteor crater below the Upper Iowa River.
- List of Iowa rivers
- List of Minnesota rivers
- Statistics on watershed (*.pdf) (retrieved 5 April 2007)
- Water level (NOAA) (retrieved 31 March 2007)
- Watershed map (retrieved 31 March 2007)
- Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (retrieved 21 March 2007)
- Upper Iowa River Watershed Project (retrieved 31 March 2007)
- Lime Springs to French Creek Bridge *pdf format (retrieved 31 March 2007)
- Kayaking site (retrieved 31 March 2007)
- Acquisition of 1224 acres (from Waukon, Standard) (retrieved 5 April 2007)