Laws & Policies

Indian Mounds at Fire Point
Conical Burial Mounds at Fire Point

NPS Photo

Effigy Mounds National Monument was established by Proclamation on October 25, 1949, by President Harry S. Truman to protect significant prehistoric earth mounds found in northeast Iowa and to protect wildlife, scenic, and other natural values of the area.

- Presidential Proclamation No. 2860, Oct. 25, 1949, 64th Statutes at Large, 81st Congress 2d Session, 64 part 2:A371

Rules and regulations

A selection of parks rules and regulations is below. The complete rules and regulations of Effigy Mounds National Monument are contained in two documents:

  1. Federal regulations covering all National Park Service lands are contained in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Title 36, Chapter 1
  2. In addition, regulations pertaining specifically to Effigy Mounds National Monument contained in the Superintendent's Compendium.

Violators are brought before the U.S. District Courts and are punishable by fine and/or imprisonment.


The consumption of alcoholic beverages or the possession of an open container of an alcoholic beverage is prohibited in the following areas: Inside the Visitor Center and within 100 feet of all Mound Groups.


All natural, cultural, and archeological resources are protected and may not be removed or disturbed.

*Small amounts of berries, seeds and nuts may be gathered for immediate personal consumption within the park, but nothing can be removed from the park.

Relic hunting is prohibited. Possession of a metal detector in the park is unlawful.

Firearms and other weapons

Legislation: As of February 22, 2010, a new federal law allows people who can legally possess firearms under applicable federal, state, and local laws to legally possess firearms in this park. Refer to Section 512 of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, Public Law 111-24, 123 Stat. 1764-65.

Firearms Sign
Federal Facilities Firearms Prohibited Sign


Park User Responsibility: It is the responsibility of visitors to understand and comply with all applicable state, local, and federal firearm laws before entering this park. As a starting point, please see the Iowa Code, Chapter 724. Please note that Iowa does not recognize any other state's concealed weapons permit.

Weapons Prohibited in Federal Facilities: Federal law also prohibits firearms in certain facilities in this park; those places are marked with signs at all public entrances. Refer to 18 U.S.C. § 930.

(Other) Weapons, traps and nets

Except as otherwise provided in this section the following are prohibited: (i) Possessing a trap or net (ii) Carrying a trap or net (iii) Using a weapon, trap or net.

Possession of other weapons, traps and nets is permitted within the Sny Magill Unit public access corridor, provided such implements are legally possessed and being used outside the park in accordance with state and federal law, and are rendered temporarily inoperable or are packed, cased or stored in a manner that will prevent their ready use.

* Notwithstanding any other provision in this section, a person may possess, carry and transport concealed, loaded and operable firearms within Effigy Mounds National Monument in accordance with the laws of the State of Iowa except, as otherwise prohibited by applicable Federal law.


Hunting, trapping, touching, feeding, teasing, or otherwise disturbing wildlife or fish is prohibited.

* Legally obtained wildlife that is within the limits of federal and state laws may be transported through the Sny Magill Unit public access corridor.


Lost and found

Property may not be left unattended longer than 24 hours. Found property must be turned in to the Visitor Center or nearest park ranger.


Pets are allowed in the park, but must be physically restrained at all times. Leashes may not exceed six feet in length. Pets, except service dogs (such as seeing-eye dogs), are prohibited in buildings and may not be tied to objects and left unattended.

Pet excrement must be immediately collected by the pet handler and disposed of in the nearest trash receptacle. If there is not a trash receptacle in the area, the excrement shall be removed from the park.

Trash and littering

Littering or other dumping of refuse is prohibited. Use of park dumpsters for discarding household trash is prohibited.

Recreational activities

The park is open during daylight hours. Daylight hours is defined as one half hour before sunrise to one half-hour after sunset. The superintendent makes exceptions to these limits for evening programs, approved special use permits or approval on an individual basis. The superintendent reserves the right to close the park or portions thereof, for resource management purposes, public holidays, national security or emergency situations.

Any public activity, such as standing, sitting or walking on the mounds is prohibited.

All mound groups, rock shelters and historical sites, located in the North, South and Heritage Addition units that are not on established public trails, are closed to public access unless permitted in writing by the superintendent or their designee.


Picnicking is permitted only in designated picnic areas. These areas are: the lawns surrounding the Visitor Center and the boat dock / parking area of the Sny Magill Unit public access area.


The use of stoves, charcoal or gas grills or other cooking devices is prohibited within the park, unless permitted in accordance with the terms of a special use permit.

Skating, skateboards, and similar devices

Use of these devices is prohibited. Bicycles of all types are not permitted in the park beyond the visitor center parking area, or the Sny Magill Public access corridor. Segway® Personal Transporters (or similar such device) are not permitted in the park beyond the visitor center parking area, or the Sny Magill Public access corridor, unless the Segway® Personal Transporter is being used by persons with disabilities in designated handicapped accessible locations where persons with disabilities currently use personal mechanized modes of conveyance.


Smoking is prohibited in all public buildings. Smoking on trails and other outside areas of the park may be prohibited during periods of high fire danger.

Horses and pack animals

Horses and pack animals are permitted in the visitor center parking lot and the Sny Magill Unit public access corridor. Unless being used for resource management purposes, horses and pack animals are prohibited from all other park areas.


Effigy Mounds National Monument, Iowa

- Presidential Proclamation No. 2860, Oct. 25, 1949, 64th Statutes at Large, 81st Congress 2d Session, 64 part 2:A371

- Public Law 87-44, May 27, 1961, 75 Stat. 88

- Public Law 106–323, Oct. 19, 2000, 114 Stat. 1289

* Presidential Proclamation 2860 established Effigy Mounds National Monument because of

“ mounds in the northeastern part of the State of Iowa known as the Effigy Mounds are of great scientific interest because of the variety of their forms, which include animal effigy, bird effigy, conical, and linear types, illustrative of a significant phase of the mound-building culture of the prehistoric American Indians ...”

The proclamation also included this statement:

“Warning is hereby expressly given to all unauthorized persons not to appropriate, injure, destroy, or remove any feature of this monument and not to locate or settle upon any of the lands thereof.”

  • Public Law 87-44 added 272 acres of land to the monument:

    “. . . for the purposes of preserving certain prehistoric Indian mounds and protecting existing wildlife and other natural values . . .”

  • Public Law 106-323 allowed for additional lands (Ferguson/Kistler Tract and the Riverfront Tract) to be purchased from willing sellers and adjusted the monument boundary to include these lands. The Ferguson/Kistler Tract is now called the Heritage Addition.

Last updated: August 21, 2021

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

151 Hwy 76
Harpers Ferry, IA 52146


563 873-3491 x123
Visitor Center front desk.

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