Sandy Point
What To Do

If you like hiking, skiing, boating, shopping or just relaxing, Sandy Point is a little slice of heaven! You’ll find a world of activities, just minutes from your door!

There's a lot to do in Northeast Iowa!

Hiking, Skiing, Boating, Relaxing

If you like hiking, skiing, boating, shopping or just relaxing, Sandy Point is a little slice of heaven! You’ll find a world of activities, just minutes from your door! Check out the links below for details!

  • Effigy Mounds, one of the regions most popular National Monuments
  • The charming village of McGregor
  • Marquette gaming
  • Hiking, skiing, hunting, fishing and boating in northeast Iowa
  • Shopping in McGregor, Marquette, and nearby Prairie Du Chien
  • Museums, music, festivals, art and other events

Local Attractions

Attractions & Activities

 

Lansing Iowa is a Mississippi river town of 1000 people located about 30 miles South of LaCrosse, Wisconsin and about 3.5 hours Southeast of Minneapolis. For the folks who live here all year, we have many of the things that make it a great small town like a post office, grocery store, library and many small businesses that cater to locals and tourists alike.

Our downtown is very close to the Mississippi River and in fact, Main St. gently slopes down to and dead ends in The River. In the old days, that’s where you would have embarked and disembarked the steamboats that use to ply these waters. We still have a great amount of history on our Main St., with many original buildings and storefronts that all add to the value and charm of our Riverfront town.

This site was created with a blend of historical and new information to appeal to anyone looking to live here or just visit here. What makes this guide unique is that we have also included content on things to see and do within 40 miles of Lansing Iowa, regardless of what state or city the ‘point of interest’ happens to be in.

What made our town popular back in the old days is still what makes it popular today- the great fishing, great scenery, outdoor activities and best of all, the friendly people who live here. What’s old is new, we hope you enjoy the site and will browse what we have to offer and come and make my Lansing your Lansing!

Attractions


McGregor was founded as MacGregor’s Landing in 1847 by Alexandar MacGregor, a descendant of Rob Roy MacGregor, and the area around MacGregor’s Landing was settled by the extended family. In 1849 it was reported that the original MacGregor seal and signet were owned by Alex McGregor. The Scots Gaelic clan seal was inscribed, “Triogal Ma Dh’ream/ Een dhn bait spair nocht”, which was interpreted as “I am of royal descent/ Slay and spare not.”

Since 1837, MacGregor had been operating a ferry across the Mississippi River between Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin and the present site of McGregor, Iowa. MacGregor planned the new city as a six block development, and it was quickly populated, being incorporated as McGregor in 1857. In that same year, the Milwaukee & Mississippi Railroad finished building a railroad track from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, thus connecting Lake Michigan with the Mississippi River by rail. McGregor quickly became a major commercial center, and served as a hub where grain from Iowa and Minnesota could be transported across the Mississippi and sent on to Milwaukee via railroad. More railroads were built to connect McGregor with cities further west, and the city of North McGregor (now Marquette, Iowa) was established just north of the city to serve as the city’s railroad terminus. After reaching McGregor from the west, trains were disassembled and railroad cars were ferried across the Mississippi to continue on towards Lake Michigan.

During the 1870s, the population of McGregor exploded to over 5,500 as the city became one of the busiest shipping ports west of Chicago. In 1874, the system of ferrying railroad cars across the river between North McGregor and Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, was brought to an end when Prairie du Chien businessman John Lawler commissioned the construction of a permanent pontoon bridge to connect the two cities’ rail lines. As the need for men to disassemble and ship trains across the river disappeared, the city’s population began to decline.

Today the city’s history is preserved in its downtown business district, which contains many buildings constructed during the city’s boom years. Because of its colorful history and location beside the Mississippi River, the city has become a popular summer tourist destination, and it is known for its many antique stores.

Marquette is located directly across from Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, and the two cities are connected by U.S. Highway 18, which crosses the river on the Marquette-Joliet Bridge. Effigy Mounds National Monument and the Yellow River State Forest are a few miles to the north. The city of McGregor, Iowa is located just to the south.

Marquette itself was originally incorporated as North McGregor in 1874, and it served as a railroad terminus for its southern neighbor. Along with McGregor, the city became a major hub on the railroad, as grain from throughout Iowa and Minnesota was sent through the city en route to Lake Michigan. Initially trains had to be ferried across the river between Marquette and Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, in order to continue their journey, but this system came to an end when Prairie du Chien businessman John Lawler had a permanent pontoon bridge built to connect the two cities’ rail lines.

Marquette subsequently became home to a major rail yard, which even as late as 1920 was the busiest in Iowa, employing 400 people. Not too long afterwards, the railroad’s significance declined, the last passenger train stopped in Marquette in 1960, and the pontoon bridge was disassembled in 1961. Today the city is a tourist destination, most notable for the being home to an Isle of Capri riverboat casino.

Effigy Mounds National Monument is adjacent to the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, the Driftless Area National Wildlife Refuge, the Yellow River State Forest, and a short distance to the south, Pikes Peak State Park. There are also a number of state-owned wildlife management areas, such as the one at Sny Magill Creek, where Clayton County also maintains a county park.

At the monument, the National Park Service preserves more than 200 prehistoric mounds built by Native American Mound Builders. These tribes constructed various styles of earthen mounds for religious and ceremonial, burial, and elite residential purposes from roughly 3400 BCE into the 16th century.

Effigy mount example In northeastern Iowa, the Effigy Mounds area was a point of transition between the eastern hardwood forests and the central prairies. Native American and early settlers would have been able to draw on natural resources available in forests, wetlands, and prairies, making the site hospitable for humans for many centuries. Many of the mounds in this particular area are shaped like animals, including bears and birds (effigies).

Effigy Mounds National Monument represents the western edge of the effigy region of the Upper Mississippi. The monument consists of 2,526 acres with 206 mounds (31 are effigies). The largest, Great Bear Mound, measures nearly 138 feet from head to tail and rises more than 3 feet above the original ground level.The North Unit features 67 mounds and the South Unit has 29. These two Units are contiguous and easily accessible. The Sny Magill Unit (112 mounds) is approximately 11 miles south of the other units, and offers no visitor facilities. The rest of the mounds are located on remote parts of the Monument property.

Public Access

map of effigiesThe visitor center, located at the park entrance, contains museum exhibits highlighting archaeological and natural specimens, an auditorium and book sales outlet. The park has 14 miles of hiking trails. No paved public automobile access roads exist in the park. Rangers give guided hikes and prehistoric tool demonstrations that are scheduled and advertised, mid-June through Labor Day weekend. Educational programs are presented on- and off-site by appointment.

Natural features in the monument include forests, tallgrass prairies, wetlands and rivers. The national monument is quite close to the town of Marquette, Iowa, and is just across the Mississippi River from the city of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, where visitors can find ample motel and gaming options.

Effigy Mounds was proclaimed a National Monument on October 25, 1949, largely because of the efforts of Charles R. Keyes, head of the Iowa Archaeological Survey, and Ellison Orr, chief field supervisor for the Iowa Archaeological Survey.

Area Topography

The Effigy Mounds National Monument is located in what is known as the “Driftless Area,” an area of North America which escaped glaciation during the last ice age. (The adjacent Driftless Area National Wildlife Refuge takes its name from this region.) Unlike most the surrounding area, the Driftless Area was not covered by the glaciers that most of the topography of the Great Lakes region. As a result, streams were able to expose and carve out deep channels in bedrock, create deep river valleys and features like sinkholes, caves and springs.

Text courtesy Iowa Department of Natural Resources

In this area, Native Americans of the Woodland Culture of 800 to 1200 A.D. sculpted earthen “effigy” mounds on ridge tops, in the shapes of animals, to celebrate their oneness with Mother Earth. Many of these mounds remain today as a monument to these people and a reminder to us that we are also of the earth.

In 1673, the first white men to see what is now Iowa, explorer Louis Joliet and Father James Marquette, reached the mouth of the Wisconsin River and beheld the great, unknown river now known as the Mississippi. After the Louisiana Purchase, the government sent Zebulon Pike in 1805 to explore the Mississippi valley and select locations suitable for military posts. Pike recognized the park site as an important, strategic point, and an excellent location for a fort. The government agreed on the vicinity but selected the prairie around Prairie du Chien (now Wisconsin) for the fort. Several years later, Pike was again sent westward by the government and named Pikes Peak in Colorado.

Pikes Peak State Park is a hiker’s delight. On its trails, hikers can explore beautiful wooded bluffs and valleys. Along the trails, hikers will see sheer walls of Decorah limestone, and fossil remains including brachiopods, gastropods and cephalopods. The trail goes past Bridal Veil Falls, a refreshing spring. The other trail leading to the 500-foot-high Point Ann overlooks the town of McGregor offers an invigorating hike with breathtaking views.

Hiking

Pikes Peak State Park is a hiker’s delight. On its trails, hikers can explore beautiful wooded bluffs and valleys. Along the trails, hikers will see sheer walls of Decorah limestone, and fossil remains including brachiopods, gastropods and cephalopods. The trail goes past Bridal Veil Falls, a refreshing spring. The other trail leading to the Point Ann overlooks and the town of McGregor offers an invigorating hike with breathtaking views.
Bird watchers are also attracted to the area. With thousands of acres of mature forest and hundreds of miles of hiking trails, the area offers a diverse range of habitat.

Biking

The Northeast State Park Bike Route is a 130 mile route which connects Pikes Peak State Park, Wapsipinicon State Park, and Backbone State Park utilizing county highways.

Boating

Few locations offer greater opportunity to explore by boat. The broad expanse of the Upper Mississippi provides hundreds of miles of both mainland and island shoreline to explore. The area also lies at the confluence of the Wisconsin River and other navigable tributaries. When you run out of options near home, the Army Corps of Engineers Lock and Dam system allows easy passage up and downstream for the entire length of the Mississippi!

Skiing

There are ample opportunities for cross country skiing on miles of trails in and around Harpers Ferry. The Yellow River State Forest alone offers more than 6,000 acres of maintained trails to explore.

Hunting

Nearly all of the Yellow River State Forest is open to hunting during Iowa’s open seasons.

The first lands acquired for Yellow River State Forest were purchased in 1935 with funds that were appropriated to support the Civilian Conservation Corps (C.C.C.). The original purchase was adjacent to the Yellow River near its confluence with the Mississippi and the name “Yellow River Forest” was appropriate. In 1949, 1500 acres of the Forest was transferred to the National Park Service and became a part of Effigy Mounds National Monument. The larger units of the state forest are now located in the Paint Creek watershed, north of Yellow River. Subsequent land purchases consolidated scattered tracts and today the forest is 8,503 acres in size.

Fishing

Beyond the expansive fishery that is the Upper Mississippi, the Harpers Ferry area offers challenging fishing venues in the nearby trout streams of the Yellow River State Forest and countless other tributaries.

For detailed information about Iowa’s fishery, visit the Iowa DNR website.


If one of your favorite vacation pastimes is shopping, the Harpers Ferry area will not disappoint! Harpers Ferry, McGregor, Marquette, and Prairie du Chien all offer a broad range of locally owned shops full of things quirky, beautiful and often surprising.

You will, of course, find the full complement of antique shops full of unclaimed treasure and historical oddities. There are vintage clothing stores, artisans of all stripes, Christmas shops, jewelry, doll shops – even a blacksmith’s forge!

When you get hungry you’ll have plenty of options, too. You can stop for refreshments at a real, 1950’s vintage soda fountain, enjoy the surprising cuisine of a classically trained chef (casual dress, of course), or order up a cold one from one of the area’s popular microbreweries.

Wondering what’s available on the other side of the river? How about planning a visit to Cabela’s, one of the world’s largest outdoor retailers? On the way back home, you can pick up some of that world famous Wisconsin cheese!

Area Events

Local Events & Dates

If you like hiking, skiing, boating, shopping or just relaxing, Sandy Point is a little slice of heaven!

You’ll find a world of activities, just minutes from your door! Check out the links below for details!

Links

Local Information

Froehlich Foundation
24397 Froelich Road
McGregor, IA 52157
563-536-2841
website

McGregor Historical Museum
256 Main Street
McGregor, Iowa 52157
563-873-2220

Marquette Depot Museum & Information Center
216 Edgar Street
Marquette, Iowa 52158
563-873-1200

Immaculate Conception Church
1416 County Hwy X52
Harpers Ferry, Iowa 52146
563-538-4171
website

St. Ann-St. Joseph Church
307 W. Orange St.
1416 Great River Rd.
Harpers Ferry, Iowa 52146
563-586-2150
website

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church
Missouri Synod 628 Main Street
McGregor, Iowa 52157
563-873-3341

St. Mary’s Catholic Church
311 7th Street
McGregor, Iowa 52157
563-873-2665

United Methodist Church
330 Ann Street
McGregor, Iowa 52157
563-873-2409

First Lutheran Church ELCA
5 miles South of McGregor Great River Road
McGregor, Iowa 52157
563-873-2077

Immaculate Conception Church
648 Main St
Lansing, Iowa 52151
563-538-4171
website

Center Baptist Church
1403 Hartong Dr
Lansing, Iowa 52151
563-535-2000
website

United Methodist Church
490 Center St.
Lansing, Iowa 52151
563-538-4352

James Arvidson, DDS
228 Main Street
McGregor, Iowa 52157
563-873-3780

Prairie du Chien Memorial Hospital
705 E. Taylor St
Prairie du Chien, WI 53821
608-357-2000
website

Great River Care Center & Turner Pointe Assisted Living Center
1400 W. Main Street
McGregor, Iowa 52157
563-873-3527

Mayo Clinic Health System – Franciscan Healthcare
105 East Main St.
Waukon, Iowa 52172
563-568-3449
website