Fall Festival Great River Road

McGregor Iowa’s Art and Craft Festival, second weekend in October

McGregor Fall Arts and Crafts Festival

Fall colors were starting to break out along the Mississippi River and a perfect weather forecast for the weekend encouraged Jo and I to head to McGregor, Iowa for their Arts & Crafts fall event.

Pikes Peak Camping & Hiking. We lucked out and found an vacant campsite at Pikes Peak State Park located on one of the high bluffs above McGregor. Most of the 77 sites offer electrical hookups for Rvs with about a dozen suitable only for tent camping. There is a RV dump station and a clean, modern washroom and bath facility. Once we checked in we found out one reason the park was so full on an October Thursday: very reasonable campsite fees. Amenities include a day use picnic shelter, a well outfitted camp store and concession, some interesting hiking trails, and among the best scenic overlooks of the Upper Mississippi River. It is located only about two miles from town.

When we are in the area we usually do some hiking at nearby Effigy Mounds National Park as its mature forest offers some great color and it also has some very good scenic overlooks of the river. But the park was closed due to the government financial and political wrangling. This winter we hope to return to do some snowshoeing at the park when it re-opens.

McGregor Fall Color. Since we were last in McGregor-Marquette area in the fall a few more of McGregor’s historic old buildings have gotten remodeled and some new enterprises now occupying them. The town is full of antique shops, artisan studios, pubs, and gift shops . . . most of them stretched along the main street that runs from the river front up the hill to out of town. Originally settled in 1837 as a ferry boat landing to cross the river to Prairie Du Chien, the community grew fast and was incorporated as a town in 1847. It retains its original river town roots in its grain elevator and dock, which was active with the fall harvest the weekend we were there. But its restored downtown buildings and interesting shops make it a fun place to visit.

Our favorite dining spot, the Beer & Bratz Garden, was closed for a few days due to a death in the family. We missed having a sandwich and Leinie’s on their deck that overlooks the river.  As an alternative, we tried dinner at the Old Man River Brew Pub but we found it disappointing in many respects. So unfortunately no restaurant review here on that establishment. 🙂 The Cafe McGregor looks like a nice place; has an attractive outdoor patio. Have to try them next time we are in town.

There were spots of nice color on the hillside behind McGregor but we didn’t find the fall color along the river as we expected. Some trees had lost their leaves while others hadn’t changed much. If the leaves hold on, there still should be some halfway decent color towards the last half of October. Even though we missed peak color, it was still a very nice weekend to be out of doors along the Mississippi doing things whether it be hiking, leaf peeping, or touring the shops and pubs in McGregor and its nearby neighboring towns of Marquette and Prairie Du Chien.

Here’s a few pictures of McGregor and from Pikes Peak.

Mississippi River Overlook, Pikes Peak
Looking upstream on the Mississippi River from Pikes Peak. Marquette-Prairie du Chien bridge in the background

Pikes Peak State Park River Overlook
The main scenic overlook of the Mississippi River Valley from Pikes Peak State Park

McGregor Iowa mainstreet
Main street McGregor has retained and restored many of its old commercial buildings

McGregor Iowa
Not quite Peak Color on the hillside behind downtown McGregor

McGregor Iowa Antique Shops
One of the many antique shops in “antique” buildings in McGregor

McGregor Log Cabiin
A few structures like this log cabin date back to the 1840s and the founding of the town

Golf Course Review. While we in the area I took an opportunity to squeeze in nine holes of golf at the Prairie Du Chien Country Club. It’s a nice little course and not too expensive. I will return to do 18 holes next time. Most of the fairways are tree-lined, with some thicker woods bordering some. About 2/3 rds of the holes are rolling hills, some with dramatic terrain changes. A few relatively level holes as well. I walked the course with little trouble. There were some challenging holes but no gimmicks. The fairways were lush and well maintained, the greens in good shape and relatively fast. The clubhouse is old and shows its age, but everything was clean. Has a small pro shop, a dining room and a bar, with an expansive deck overlooking the course. From the blue tees the course runs 6222 yards, with a slope and rating of 69.9/119.

A few pictures of the golf course.

Golfiing at Prairie du Chien
Well manicured fairways were typical of Prairie du Chien Country Club’s golf course

There are some dramatic terrain changes on some holes of the Prairie du Chien golf course

Our Rialta motor home will be soon put to bed for the winter so the next time we are at the Mississippi it will be winter for some snowshoeing.

Happy Trails,