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The derecho that hit a large portion of Iowa on Monday, August 10 left several state parks with significant damage forcing some closures due to unsafe conditions.
As staff continue to work diligently to assess the damage left behind by Monday’s storms, some parks are closed indefinitely and others have partial closures or areas the public should avoid. With most of the damage being downed trees and tree limbs caused by significant winds, visitors should use extreme caution when visiting any parks that remain open. The DNR’s top priority is the safety of any visitors at the state parks.
Palisades-Kepler State Park (LINN COUNTY), Pleasant Creek State Recreation Area (LINN COUNTY), Lake Macbride State Park (JOHNSON COUNTY) and Wapsipinicon State Park (JONES COUNTY) are completely closed until further notice. Staff continue to assess the extent of the damage and are beginning to work on clean-up efforts. The parks will remain closed to the public until they can be safely reopened.
Rock Creek State Park (JASPER COUNTY) is partially open, but is without power, which is affecting water pressure and access. The east side of the park, which includes the park office, trails, disc golf course and campground, is closed until further notice. The west side of the park, which includes the beach, is open but has no power.
Big Creek State Park (POLK COUNTY) is open with limited services. The park remains without power and phone service. Sections of the park may temporarily close as staff continue to clean-up storm debris. Boat ramps may be closed on the east side as courtesy docks were damaged and are being removed. The marina concession will remain closed through August 16. The Neal Smith Trail between Sycamore and Saylor Creek also remains closed due to construction.
Ledges State Park (BOONE COUNTY) is open, however, the park is without power and phone service. The campground is open but has no electricity. Full hook-up campsites do not have water or sewer service and the campground dump station is closed. Modern restroom facilities including the shower buildings will be closed if the power is not restored on Friday morning. The Canyon Drive is open to vehicle traffic and most trails are free of storm debris.
Union Grove State Park (TAMA COUNTY) is mostly open, however, the park remains without power and phone service. The rental cabins remain closed and the trail systems are not open at this time. The campground is open with flush toilets available, but there is no hot water or electricity.
Walnut Woods State Park (POLK COUNTY) is open but has no phone or internet services. Staff availability is limited as they are busy assessing the damage throughout the park.
Wildcat Den State Park (MUSCATINE COUNTY) is open but some trails may be inaccessible at this time. Park visitors may still access the trail system, but large limbs and downed trees should be expected. Use caution when hiking around downed trees or hanging limbs.
Park visitors are strongly encouraged to avoid areas with debris and parks staff that are busy assessing and removing the debris. If visitors notice damage on trails or other areas that have not been blocked off, please alert park staff.
The DNR will directly contact anyone with reservations affected by these closures to issue refunds.
For a complete list of Iowa State Parks closures and alerts, visit: https://www.iowadnr.gov/Places-to-Go/State-Parks/Alerts-and-Closures
Some pictures are available upon request by contacting Alex Murphy at Alex.Murphy@dnr.iowa.gov.