Picnicking/Shelters 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. Camping 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. Half of the campsites are still available for self-registration on a first-come, first-serve basis. Camping is not allowed in the Nelson Unit. Trails In the Nelson Unit, four trails provide a variety of hiking opportunities. One trail leads out to scenic overlook of the Mississippi, one winds past Indian burial mounds, one wanders through a restored prairie and a "Garden Sanctuary for Butterflies", and one takes you past an old limestone rock quarry. The Dyas Unit encompasses almost 4 miles of foot trails, scenic overlooks, a stream with beaver dams, and aquatic and other wildlife. In winter, bald eagles concentrate to feed near the open waters below Lock and Dam 12. Pileated woodpeckers are occasionally seen in isolated areas. South Bluff Nature Center 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 open seasonally and offers a variety of programs in the summer. 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 1:00 to 4:00 pm Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays, and by appointment. Hours may vary depending on volunteer and staff availability. The "Garden Sanctuary for Butterflies", 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 Garden Sanctuary for butterflies.
The views are the main feature of the trails at this park. We hiked a total of six miles, covering portions of both the Nelson and the Dyas units. While there are some elevation changes, there is nothing else particularly challenging about the trails. Large sections are mowed paths or service roads. If you are limited for time, the Nelson Unit has the better trails.
Four trails provide a variety of hiking opportunities. One trail leads out to scenic overlook of the Mississippi, one winds past Indian burial mounds, one wanders through a restored prairie and a "Garden Sanctuary for Butterflies", and one takes you past an old limestone rock quarry.