Pilot Rock Lookout

 High on a ridge at the south end of Cherokee, Iowa, Pilot Rock, an enormous glacial boulder, overlooks the Little Sioux River Valley. The rock is composed of Sioux Quartzite, and was carried to its current resting place by the most recent continental glacier, over 20,000 years ago. The rock is approximately 20’ high by 40’ wide and 61’ long. Long before white settlers used this marker to find the fertile valley where Cherokee was founded, ancient trails led Native American travelers to the massive landmark, which they called “Woven Stone.”

 According to historical records, American novelist James Fenimore Cooper of New Jersey described Pilot Rock, though not by name, in Chapter 8 of his 1827 novel The Prairie, one of the frontier tales of Natty Bumppo, or Leatherstockings. During the Civil War, the land surrounding the stone was lost to its owner due to non-payment of taxes, and Albert Riggs, a Fenimore Cooper fan from New Jersey, bought the land to protect the rock from settlers who were blasting chunks of the quartzite to build their foundations. The Riggs family owned the parcel for many years, and it remains in private ownership at the present time.

 The lookout area includes a parking lot, picnic shelter with table, a charcoal grill, and a historical marker placed on the site by the Pilot Rock Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution


1650 Pilot Rock Road
Cherokee, Iowa