Facilities and Activities
Picnickers at the Nelson Unit can enjoy beautiful views of the Mississippi River. Open picnic shelters may be reserved for a fee. The lodge is an ideal spot for group events such as wedding receptions and family events and is available on a reservation basis. The lodge and open shelters may be reserved online through the park reservation system.
The Dyas Unit has 46 camping units (31 with electrical hookups), modern rest rooms, showers and a sanitary dumping station. Advance campsite reservations can be booked through the park reservation system. One third of the campsites are still available for self-registration on a first-come, first-serve basis. Camping is not allowed in the Nelson Unit.
In the Nelson Unit, three trails provide a variety of hiking experiences. Each offers a glimpse of something different; scenic views of the Mississippi, strolls through a restored prairie and butterfly garden, and a former limestone quarry with a primitive limestone kiln in view just beyond the park boundary.
The Dyas Unit encompasses almost 4 miles of foot trails with another 1.5 miles scheduled to be built by the Iowa DNR trail crew in 2015! Scenic overlooks, a stream with wildlife, and spring woodland wildflowers are amongst the highlights these trails offer. Plentiful spring flowers are May Apple, Wild Ginger, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Wild Columbine, Hepatica, Bloodroot, & Dutchman’s Breeches. In winter, bald eagles concentrate to feed near the open waters below Lock and Dam 12. Pileated woodpeckers are occasionally seen in isolated areas.
The South Bluff Nature Center in the Nelson Unit contains a variety of interesting displays on the plants, animals and geology of Bellevue State Park. The center is a remodeled golf course country club, rebuilt with mostly donated labor and supplies. It has been open to park visitors since its dedication in 1984. It is open Memorial Day to Labor Day, Saturday, Sunday and Holidays. Hours may vary depending on volunteer and staff availability.
The "Butterfly Garden", is located nearby. This unique area contains over one hundred separate plots, each featuring plants which provide food and habitat for butterflies. A network of pathways allows visitors to walk through the garden and see a wide variety of butterflies as well as enjoy the beautiful array of flowers and the pond in the center. For more information visit the website at Butterfly Garden.
High bluffs with scenic views of the Mississippi River, 770 acres with timbered walking trails, a unique butterfly sanctuary and an enclosed nature center are just some of the features that make Bellevue State Park so special. Located just south of the picturesque town of Bellevue, the park offers spectacular views of the river, the wildlife, and the unique butterfly garden.
The park lies in two separate tracts. The Nelson Unit is at the immediate south edge of Bellevue on U.S. 52, atop a 300 foot limestone bluff. The Dyas Unit is two miles further south on U.S. 52.
Bellevue is just north of the Nelson Unit of the park. Dubuque is 21 miles north on HWY 52.
Aquarium Display, Archery, Bicycling, Bird Watching, Butterfly Garden, Camping - Electric, Camping - Nonelectric, Camping - Youth Group, Cross Country Skiing, Day-use Lodge, Dump Station, Fishing, Geological Formations, Hiking, Hunting, Interpretive Center, Interpretive Display, Interpretive Programs, Jogging/Running, Modern Campground, Nature Center, Picnic Area, Picnic Shelter, Playground, Restrooms, Showers, Trails, Cross Country Skiing, Trails, Hiking, Viewing Platform/Overlook, Water Hydrants Less than a mile
Antiquing, ATM/Cash Machine, Boat Launch Ramp, Boating, Canoe Rental, Canoeing, Dock, Boat, Fuel, Vehicles, Retail, Bait & Tackle, Retail, Drinks, Retail, Firewood, Retail, Ice, Retail, Snacks, Trails, BicycleMore than a mile
Church, Firewood Sales, Golf, Grocery Store, Hospital, Marina, Motel, Water Slides