The Highest Point in Iowa Is So Flat You Probably Wouldn’t Even Notice It

Written by Angie Menjivar
Updated: July 26, 2023
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When you hear “high point,” you may instinctively picture a peak like a mountain top. However, considering Iowa is extraordinarily flat, it makes sense that its high point is a bit underwhelming. Most people wouldn’t even recognize it as a high point. It was previously a locally known spot. But about 14 years ago, new owners added a bit of flair, and it became a popular destination for tourists.

Infographic of Hawkeye Point
At Hawkeye Point’s summit you can check out a colorful display of license plates from different states.

Highest Point in Iowa

The elevation of Hawkeye Point, the highest point in Iowa, is only 1,670 feet. It was once a hidden spot, littered with tall Iowa corn, that was mostly a local secret that only residents knew about. Occasionally, it was a place for outsiders to visit. People from other states sometimes chucked a license plate at this location, as a way of leaving their mark.

Today, it’s a little different. In 2008, Osceola County obtained several acres of the land that surrounds Hawkeye Point, known as the Merrill-Sterler farm. Since then, it has become a well-known stop for anyone traveling through the area.

How Does Hawkeye Point Compare to the Rest of Iowa?

Since Hawkeye Point was made more visitor-friendly, it’s become a popular Iowa tourist destination.

©Gabe Shakour/

Hawkeye Point is the highest flat point in Iowa. Though Hawkeye Point doesn’t exactly have a “point,” it does offer an elevated perspective of the surrounding farmland. Visitors can enjoy fantastic panoramic views. And since the owners made it more visitor-friendly, it’s become a popular tourist destination.

However, this location is not the best Iowa has to offer. If you’re looking for a young, lively vibe, head to Iowa City. Here, you’ll find the University of Iowa, which creates an appealing, artsy, and energetic atmosphere. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, visit Pikes Peak State Park. You can take in striking views of the Mississippi River and enjoy hiking trails and isolated campsites.

To experience the charm Iowa has to offer, Decorah is a must-see. This town is cradled in the northeastern region of the state and features a Scandinavian heritage. Here, there are several parks to visit and magical residential designs. You can learn more about this town’s history by visiting the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum.

For some watersports, head out to Okoboji, where you can find the Iowa Great Lakes. These lakes are in the northwestern part of the state and offer tons of outdoor recreational activities. You can explore beautiful coves and inviting beaches, as well as spend time in resorts and dine in exclusive restaurants. There’s even an amusement park with rides and games to keep kiddos entertained.

And you can always head over to the state’s capital, Des Moines. This city is located right in the center of the state, adjacent to the Des Moines River. This city is a mix of country and urban living and offers both an exciting and leisurely atmosphere.

Can You Drive to the Top of Hawkeye Point?

License plates, Hawkeye Point

Once you arrive at the summit, you can check out some license plates from different states.

©Coasterlover1994 / CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons – License

No need to leave your car, as you can drive directly to Hawkeye Point. The drive is scenic, too. On the way there, you pass by silos and old farms as you make the short ascent. Once you arrive at the summit, you can check out some license plates from different states!

Things to Do Near Hawkeye Point

In 2011, the Hawkeye Point Campground opened. It included a total of 12 camping sites, 24 picnic tables, a playground, a shelter house, and a bathhouse. This modern take on a historical site provides both electricity and water. Additionally, four of the campgrounds boast a concrete slab as of 2022. Reservations aren’t required, which means those who arrive first can take their pick.

There’s an informational kiosk and plenty to see. You can head out to the observation gate at the silo, take a photo of the mosaic display that marks the high point, and even check out some hands-on historic items and antique farm machinery. As an homage to all high points throughout the United States, directional signs point to where each is located.

Where Is Hawkeye Located on a Map?

Hawkeye Point is located in Osceola County, Iowa. At only 1,670 feet elevation, it is actually the highest point in the state. It is located within Merrill-Sterler farm, and the tourist stop is run by the county.

The Second-Highest Point in Iowa

Pilot Knob State Park Observation Tower

Pilot Knob State Park is the second-highest point in the state of Iowa.

©McGhiever / CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons – License

In Northern Iowa, you can find Pilot Knob State Park, which is the second-highest point in the state. There are some visit-worthy ecological areas here and gorgeous vistas to enjoy. Aside from enjoying the awe-inspiring views and discovering those unique ecological features, visitors can check out various hiking trails. Anglers can fish for bass, bluegill, and catfish!

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Lucas Oglesbee/

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About the Author

Angie Menjivar is a writer at A-Z-Animals primarily covering pets, wildlife, and the human spirit. She has 14 years of experience, holds a Bachelor's degree in psychology, and continues her studies into human behavior, working as a copywriter in the mental health space. She resides in North Carolina, where she's fallen in love with thunderstorms and uses them as an excuse to get extra cuddles from her three cats.

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