Upper Iowa River

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Upper Iowa River
Oneota River
Mouth Upper Iowa River Jan18 2001.jpg
Mouth of the Upper Iowa at floodstage, January 18, 2001, looking approximately west
Country United States
State Iowa
Districts Allamakee County, Iowa, Winneshiek County, Iowa, Howard County, Iowa, Fillmore County, Minnesota, Mower County, Minnesota
 - coordinates 43°37′16″N 92°37′23″W / 43.621°N 92.623°W / 43.621; -92.623
Mouth Mississippi River
 - elevation 620 ft (189 m)
 - coordinates 43°27′58″N 91°14′02″W / 43.466°N 91.234°W / 43.466; -91.234Coordinates: 43°27′58″N 91°14′02″W / 43.466°N 91.234°W / 43.466; -91.234
Length 156 mi (251 km)
Upper Iowa River.gif
Catchment of the Upper Iowa River (EPA)
U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Upper Iowa River

The Upper Iowa River is a 156-mile-long (251 km)[1] tributary of the Mississippi River in the upper Midwest of the United States.

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, Bluffton, 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.

A number of wildlife refuges and preserves dot the river's basin. Bird sightings on the river usually include bald eagles, great blue herons, turkey vultures, and barn swallows.

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.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map Archived 2012-04-05 at WebCite, accessed May 13, 2011
  2. ^ Alex, Lynn M. (2000). Iowa's Archaeological Past. University of Iowa Press. 

External links[edit]