Nelson Dewey State Park

Nelson Dewey State Park

How do you get to Nelson Dewey State Park? To me, the only reasonable path is to take the ferry from Iowa to Cassville and then drive the couple of miles up the road to the park.

The problem, of course, is this: How do you get to the Iowa side of the Mississippi River?

If you’re interested in that part of our journey to Nelson Dewey, check out our story here.

If you don’t really need to know the prequel, stay here and keep reading.

It’s Just Lunch

We began our visit to Nelson Dewey with a little, light lunch at the Prairie Shelter.

Prairie Shelter

We were apparently the guests of this nearby spider. He didn’t move the entire time we were in the park.

Spider at Prairie Shelter

The view of the Mississippi River from our picnic table was wonderful.

Mississippi River from Prairie Shelter

Walking the Trails at Nelson Dewey

After we had eaten, we took the Mound Point trail, which seems to be the logical path to follow in the park if you want to see the river.

Mound Point trail

For that purpose, the trail did not disappoint, as you can see in the two shots that follow.

Mississippi from Mound Point trail
Mississippi River and red tree

There wasn’t much else of interest along this mostly flat trail. We did see a little shelf fungus.

Shelf fungus on Mound Point trail

And we crossed this “bridge” which perhaps has a little water flowing under it at some time during the year.

Mound Point trail bridge

Near the end of the trail, we came upon this stone structure. We’re not sure what it used to be.

A former fountain?

In addition to the unofficial scenic views I showed you above, the trail also offers this official scenic overlook.

Scenic Overlook on Mound Point trail

And here is the view from there.

View from Scenic Overlook

The official trail map doesn’t really show this properly, but near its northern end, the Mound Point trail connects to the Woodbine trail loop. We took the Woodbine to get back to the road and encountered these three informational signs along the way.

Keeper of the Night
Just Passing Through

The road took us to the Oakwood trail which, while it’s broad, easy to walk, and the only real alternative to retracing your steps on the Mound Point trail, doesn’t really have anything interesting to see.

Oakwood trail

More Views in Nelson Dewey

Back near our starting point was the Dewey Heights Picnic Shelter. It has a fireplace and would make a good place to hide from the weather.

Dewey Heights Shelter

Very near the shelter are some burial mounds. There are small signs near the mounds that warn you not to walk on them. Unfortunately all these signs face away from the road – the direction from which you approach them.

Burial mounds

So, unless you’re paying attention, you won’t know you’re treading on the mounds until it’s too late. (We hadn’t noticed and may have tread on them. Sorry.)

Also nearby is another scenic overlook with a landmark sign that kindly tells you what you’re seeing.

Landmark sign

One of the views includes Stonefield Village, which is across the road from the park. (We didn’t visit it on this trip.)

Stonefield Village

You can see this interesting rock outcropping to the north. You can walk out onto the rock (which I did, second picture below) if you like. Just be a little careful because there’s no railing to keep you from falling.

Rock outcrop
View from rock outcrop
View of the scenic overlook from the rock outcrop

Nelson Dewey doesn’t have a lot going for it, but we found it a pleasant, short hike. If I happened to be in the area, I’d probably visit there again.


Nearest City

Cassville, Wisconsin (2 miles)

Nearest Emergency Facility

Guttenberg, Iowa (15 miles, ferry crossing required – 45 minutes)

Lancaster, Wisconsin (21 miles)


6:00 AM to 11:00 PM, year-round


Vehicle admission sticker required

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