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4 Hidden Surprises at Ledges State Park

Ledges State Park may be one of the most popular parks in the state, but how well do you know it? Check out this list of lesser- known park perks and attractions from park manager Andy Bartlett.

Canyon Drive
While this is probably the least hidden surprise in the park if you've been there before, it’s definitely something you don’t expect to see in Iowa and a must-see. Canyon Drive offers visitors the chance to drive down among the pretty, nearly 100 ft. tall lime- and sandstone cliffs of Pea’s Creek Canyon, and even to get a little wet in two wading areas where the creek runs over the road. Picnic tables, fishing spots, and trails abound nearby.

How many of these hidden surprises at Ledges State Park have you seen? | Iowa DNRLost Lake Trail
Speaking of trails, Lost Lake Trail is a local favorite for wildlife viewing. It’s not the easiest trek, but the 1.1 mile trail isn’t terribly long and offers opportunities to look for ducks, geese, deer, eagles and other wildlife, and hikers can see the Des Moines River through the trees.

Secluded Campsites
There are plenty of campsite options available at Ledges, including electric, non-electric, group, and 12 hike-out sites. These hike-out sites are particularly unique, and give a more rustic, secluded feel to a stay. To camp at these sites, campers leave their cars in the nearby parking lot and carry all their gear out along a wooded trail that branches off into sites marked with small signs. Half of all the campsites, including the hike-out sites, are available for reservation through the online reservation system, and the rest are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Fall Beauty
The Des Moines River marks the edge of the park, and provides water enough to fill the surrounding area with majestic deciduous trees. In the fall, these trees show their full beauty when their green leaves turn to bright reds, oranges and yellows. Conveniently, campsite rental prices drop in the off peak camping season (starting October 1st) just in time for this colorful show.

For more ideas on exploring Iowa's outdoors, check out our Iowa State Parks board on Pinterest.

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