PALISADES-KEPLER STATE PARK
Palisades-Kepler State Park lies along the beautiful Cedar River in Linn County. The 840-acre park has dramatic river bluffs, deep ravines, majestic hardwood trees, a large variety of wildflowers and an abundance of wildlife. Palisades-Kepler State Park is also important for its prehistoric past. A molar tooth of a mammoth was once found here and the exposed rocks along the Cedar River are laden with fossils of millions of years of history. The presence of Indian mounds reminds us that this was a favorite haunt of Native Americans hundreds of years ago.
In the late 1890s, James Sherman Minott acquired 160 acres of timberland on the Cedar River and built a spacious inn for the accommodation of visitors. He also established a boat rental and sold lots for the building of summer cottages. Many people took advantage of this and soon the population of the area numbered over 200. Afternoon outings on the Cedar River, capped by a quiet dinner at the combined log cabin restaurant, general store, and hotel, were common in the early 1900s. Noted American poet Carl Sandburg was a yearly visitor to the "Palisades" during the 1920s and 1930s.
In 1922, Palisades-Kepler State Park was established. Much of Minot's original land had been acquired and the State Board of Conservation had taken special notice of the unique bold cliffs and proclaimed that "these palisades lining the Cedar River are quite special." In September of 1928, the Board of Conservation accepted the gift of property from the estate of Louis H. Kepler, essentially doubling the size of the park. The Board added his name to the park name. Since that time, almost 700 acres have been added to Palisades-Kepler.
In July 1934, a Civilian Conservation Corps company was established at Palisades-Kepler. Three barracks and a mess hall were built; then, work started on the building of many park facilities. The roads, hiking trails, entry portals, lodge and other timber and stone structures remain to give the park much of its rustic character. The C.C.C. camp of 200 young men closed in 1941.
Full Hookup Sitesyes
Palisades-Kepler has four family cabins available for weekly rentals. The cabins, which can accommodate up to four persons, feature a shower, restroom, stovetop and refrigerator. Cabin users must provide their own bedding, towels and other camping items. The cabins can be reserved for a fee through the Internet at www.reserveiaparks.com or by calling toll-free 1-877-IAPARKS.
The campground at Palisades-Kepler is a fine place for a weekend outing or a two-week vacation. It has 44 campsites, 26 with electrical hookups. Modern shower and restroom facilities are available, as well as a trailer dump station. Starting February 13, 2006 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.
The lodge at Palisades-Kepler is a beautiful stone structure built in the 1930's by the Civilian Conservation Corps. It makes a fine setting for group events such as wedding receptions and family reunions. Reservations must be made through the park office.
The Cedar River offers some excellent fishing for a variety of species, including channel catfish, bass and bluegills. Anglers often try their luck by boat or along the shore above and below the old dam on the Cedar River.