Located in Northeast Iowa and Southeast Minnesota, the Upper Iowa River and its watershed are valuable natural and economic resources. The watershed is an area of rugged hills and steep topography with diverse land use. The surface water system in this watershed is made up of a complex network of spring fed coldwater trout streams.
The Upper Iowa River and its tributaries contribute to the economic health of the region. The waters of Northeast Iowa are a major attraction for anglers, paddlers, and other water recreationists. The Upper Iowa Watershed is noted for its fine fisheries, and the Iowa DNR estimates over 314,000 angler trips per year are made to the Upper Iowa River Watershed stimulating over $29 million dollars of economic activity each year.