Bellevue State Park is a 700+ acre park in Eastern Iowa – a must-see in the area! It’s best known for its spectacular views of the Mississippi River from a 250-foot limestone bluff. Plus, you can hike, camp, picnic, see the river, or hunt. After exploring the park, check out the sites in the quaint town of Bellevue, Iowa, next to the park.
Table of Contents
- About Bellevue State Park
- Things To Do at Bellevue State Park
- Park Map
- Bellevue State Park Campground
- Things to do nearby
- Visit Bellevue State Park Today!
Know before you go
- Entrance to the park is free.
- The park has two separate units (Nelson & Dyas Units) – access to each is two miles apart.
- The Dyas unit (including the campground) is off a short gravel road.
- South Bluff Nature Center is open by appointment and during special hours only.
- Picnic shelters and the day-use lodge are reservable.
About Bellevue State Park
Bellevue State Park has two separate units: the Nelson and Dyas Units. Here’s what you’ll find at each one.
- Hiking trails (two miles)
- Restored native prairie
- Butterfly Garden
- South Bluff Nature Center (call for hours)
- Picnic shelters
- Day-use lodge
- Public hunting area
- Boat ramp (river access)
- Hiking trails (four miles)
- Picnic shelters
Things To Do at Bellevue State Park
Enjoy the views
The views of the Mississippi River Valley from 250-foot bluffs are spectacular! The easiest way to see the scenic view is from the Overlook Trail (short & paved) or the Lodge – both in the Nelson Unit. You can also hike the Bluff Trail for glimpses of the river valley.
Bellevue State Park has about six miles of hiking trails to explore! They’re located in both park units.
At the Nelson Unit, take the short paved trail to the Overlook, or stroll through the Butterfly Garden. Also, consider the hike to a primitive lime kiln and quarry on the Quarry Trail.
The Dyas Unit has more trails, ranging from easy to moderate. Several trails near the campground include the Campground Trail, Woodland Trail, and Deer Trail (the Woodland and Deer Trails link for a 2-mile loop). And head out on the Bluff Trail for another great Mississippi River view!
Visit the Butterfly Garden
A one-acre butterfly garden is planted with assorted flowers attracting nearly 60(!) species of butterflies. Stroll the pathways to see the flowers and watch the butterflies. It’s a favorite for visitors of all ages!
A short, paved, accessible path leads from the parking area to the gardens.
The South Bluff Nature Center is at the entrance to the Butterfly Garden. It’s open by appointment and for nature programs. Call to check hours, make an appointment, or see the Facebook page for updated information.
Find over forty electric and non-electric campsites at the Bellevue State Park campground! It’s in the Dyas Unit and is near trails and picnic areas. See the campground section below for more.
Have a picnic (or event)
Bellevue State Park is a beautiful place to picnic! Not only does it have fantastic views, but both units have reservable open-air picnic shelters. Picnic shelters are available first-come, first-serve when not reserved. The lodge is also available to rent for picnics or events.
A 220-acre area on the west edge of the Nelson Unit is a designated public hunting area (no hunting within the park borders). Food plots get planted to attract deer, turkeys, and pheasants.
All hunters must have a license and follow the Iowa DNR hunting regulations.
Source: Iowa DNR/Bellevue State Park
Bellevue State Park Campground
The Bellevue State Park campground is in the Dyas Unit. It has over forty reservable electric and non-electric campsites.
Bellevue State Park campground has:
- 30 electric campsites, 14 non-electric sites, and a youth group site
- Modern restrooms/showers
- A playground
- Trails nearby
- A dump station
- A short gravel road to access the park unit
- A campground map here
- Reserve campsites at Reserve America
Things to do nearby
Bellevue is a quaint riverfront town considered one of Iowa’s Great Places. Rent a bike to explore or walk to see the sites. See the riverfront, browse the shops, and grab a bite to eat at a small-town eatery! You can also rent a local cabin or B & B if you want to stay awhile.
See Riverview Park and Lock & Dam #12
Riverview Park (in Bellevue) is an excellent way to see the mighty Mississippi River up close! The park trail has several benches, picnic tables, a Freedom Rock, and memorials. Plus, you can watch barges and boats at Lock & Dam #12!
Dubuque is just 25 miles north of the park and an excellent place for fun! There’s something for everyone, from the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, a ski resort, and casinos to the Mines of Spain, Eagle Point Park, and Crystal Lake Cave!
Maquoketa Caves State Park
This one-of-a-kind state park is 25 miles west of Bellevue and well worth the drive! It’s one of the most unique Iowa State Parks, with 13 caves and six miles of trails to explore. It’s an adventurous and beautiful place to escape to nature!
Visit Galena, Illinois.
Galena is across the Mississippi River from Bellevue and is a 30-mile drive (via Dubuque). It’s an excellent stop with something for all ages. See historic buildings and museums, shop boutiques, ride a trolley, and dine at local eateries! And that’s only the beginning…
• Iowa State Parks: Map & Printable
• Top 10 Things To Do in Dubuque Iowa
• Maquoketa Caves State Park
Visit Bellevue State Park Today!
The Nelson Unit is at 24668 US-52, Bellevue, IA 52031
The Dyas Unit is at 21466 429th Ave, Bellevue, IA 52031