Description - 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.
Palisades-Kepler State Park is a beautiful place for a family cookout. Picnickers can enjoy themselves, while at the same time, enjoying views of the beautiful Cedar River and the tree-lined bluffs along it. An open picnic shelter is available and may be reserved for a fee through the park manager.
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 manager.
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. Camping permits are obtained by self-registration at the campground. Camping Fees can be paid at the site.
Palisades-Kepler has four rustic family cabins available for weekly rentals. The cabins, which can accommodate up to four persons; feature a shower, restroom, stove and refrigerator. Cabin users must provide their own bedding, towels and other camping items. Reservations must be made through the park office. The cabins are a great place for an economical family vacation. Cabin Rental Fees vary from park to park.
Palisades-Kepler is a wonderful place to hike. On the six miles of trails, walkers can often see a variety of wildlife, including white-tailed deer and wild turkeys. Many species of trees, shrubs and flowers are also present along with innumerable species of songbirds.
River Activities ( boating, fishing)
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. A modern boat-launching ramp provides convenient river access.
Mount Vernon, home of Cornell College, is located 4 miles east of the park. Cedar Rapids and Marion are located 12 miles west of the park. These cities provide a variety of shopping, recreation and church opportunities.