Learn about the DNR's COVID-19 response and how the current health emergency is impacting DNR facilities, services and events.
State Park Pages have Moved

For a full listing of all Iowa State Parks, please visit: iowadnr.gov/iowastateparks, or find the park in the list below.


Please note that this page will be removed in the near future, so please update your bookmarks.


Ledges State Park
The Canyon Drive is currently closed to vehicle traffic due to snow and freezing temperatures causing icing of the low water crossings. Visitors are welcome to hike in to the canyon at this time though. Parking is available at the top in the Oak Woods picnic area or at the bottom in the Flood Pole parking lot. (This alert was updated on 1/8/2021)
Modern restroom and shower facilities throughout the park are CLOSED for the winter season. From now to March 15, a pit vault latrine is open and located just west of the campground entrance. Water hydrants throughout the park are currently off for the winter season with the exception of one hydrant near the campground entrance. Electricity will remain ON to those campsites equipped with hook-ups. (This alert was updated on 1/8/2021)

2020 Anterless Deer Hunt Application

Facilities and Activities

Stone bridge at Ledges ParkHistory

The wildlife and plant communities are interwoven with the human history of Ledges. Humans have appreciated this unique area for thousands of years. Archeological evidence found within the park dates to around 4,000 years ago. At the time of European settlement, the Ledges area was inhabited by the Sauk, Fox (now the Mesqwakie) and Sioux. Native American mounds in the vicinity contain artifacts acting as silent reminders of the area's past inhabitants.

The beauty of the canyons and bluffs of Ledges very quickly became a major attraction to the growing local communities. Ledges was proposed as a state park as early as 1914. The first park custodian, Carl Fritz Henning, was appointed in 1921. In 1924, the Ledges officially became one of Iowa's first state parks.

Park facilities constructed of native timber and field stone by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930's are still standing today. These examples of fine craftsmanship include an arch stone bridge, shelter in Oak Woods, stone trail steps and the stone shelter in lower Ledges.

Ledges has a long history of being flooded by the nearby Des Moines River. The major flood water levels have been recorded on a "flood pole" located in the lower area of the park.

Picnicking/Shelters/Lodge
Picnic areas are located throughout the park. The Oak Woods picnic shelter and nearby restroom, located in the eastern area of the park, are fully accessible. Two open picnic shelters may be reserved online through the park reservation system.

Stone shelter in lower Ledges.

Camping
Ledges offers several campsites, including electrical hookups (1 of which is fully accessible), non-electric hookups (1 of which is fully accessible), and some hike-in. Modern rest rooms, showers, a trailer dump station and a playground are located in the campground. Advance campsite reservations can be made online through the park reservation system. Half of the campsites are still available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Ted's Firewood Sales is available for campers. (515-689-3857 (cell) or 515-275-4804). It is open mid-April through late October, Fridays, Saturdays and holidays, 3:00 to 7:00 PM at the campground. Will deliver anytime if buying 5 or more bundles. 

Trails
Ledges, one of Iowa's most popular state parks, has attracted millions of visitors. Four miles of hiking trails lead up and down steep slopes to scenic overlooks and provide access to spectacular views of Pea's Creek "canyon". While most of the trails include steep portions, a fully accessible interpretive trail to Lost Lake is located at the southern part of the park.

An interpretive trail featuring lichens (small plant-like organisms growing on trees and rocks) is located in the picnic area between the east entrance and the Oak Woods shelter. Learn how to identify up to forty of these tiny, but interesting species by their differing sizes, shapes, and colors! Feel free to view or download our online slideshow of lichens found along the trail  (*pdf,5MB). If you wish to visit the trail in person, bring a magnifying lens (5X to 10X power recommended) and a printed copy of the trail guide (*pdf). The trail starts at the old stone building across from the amphitheater by the entrance to the campground.

River Activities (boating, fishing)
The Des Moines River flows through the west edge of the park and offers fine stream fishing and canoeing opportunities.

Hutton Memorial
The Hutton Memorial is located along a trail on the north side of the canyon. It honors Murray Lee Hutton, a strong conservationist and first director of the Iowa State Conservation Commission in 1935.

With its sandstone cliffs, native plant communities and deep wooded river valley, Ledges is a truly unique place. The winding road along Pea's Creek offers motorists breathtaking views of the "canyon" and the Des Moines River Valley.

The sandstone "Ledges" rise nearly 100 feet above the floor of the streambed. The sandstone was deposited 300 million years ago following the retreat of the shallow sea that covered much of the midwest. About 13,000 years ago, glacial meltwater began to cut down through the sandstone, forming the park's dramatic cliffs and valleys.

The present vegetation at Ledges is a mixture of prairies, woodlands and clearings. Dry south and west-facing slopes of oak and hickory combine with cool north and east-facing slopes of maple and basswood. This blend of northern and southern forest types provides spectacular autumn leaf colors.

The Friend's Group for Ledges State Park can be contacted by email at:  friendsoftheledges@gmail.com.

Nearby Towns
Boone is located four miles north of the park.  Ames is 15 miles east and Madrid is 11 mile south.

Don Williams County Park has a 160-acre lake and a nine hole public golf course. It is located five miles north of Ogden, which is 10 miles west of the park.

The Iowa Arboretum and Camp Mitigwa are located south of Ledges. The Camp Fire Girls and Boys Camp Hantesa is just north of the park.



Nearby Lakes

McHose Park Pond
Jay Carlson Pit (east)
Jay Carlson Pit (west)
Dickcissell Lake
Fraser Pit


Amenities

Within park
Bird Watching, Camping - Electric, Camping - Nonelectric, Camping - Walk-to/Hike-in, Camping - Youth Group, Canoeing, Cross Country Skiing, Dump Station, Fishing, Geological Formations, Hiking, Horseshoe Pits, Interpretive Programs, Jogging/Running, Kayaking, Modern Campground, Picnic Area, Picnic Shelter, Playground, Restrooms, River, Showers, Stream/Creek, Trails, Cross Country Skiing, Trails, Hiking, Walking, Water Hydrants , Wildflower Viewing, Wildlife Viewing

Less than a mile
Boating, Hunting

More than a mile
Arboretum, ATM/Cash Machine, Bicycling, Canoe Rental, Church, Firewood Sales, Golf, Grocery Store, Hospital, Maintenance, RV/Camper, Medical Clinic, Retail, Drinks, Retail, Ice, Retail, Snacks, Shopping, Winery Tours



Return
Iowa's State Parks and Forests
State Park County City Reservation Information
Ambrose A. Call State Park Kossuth County Algona Reservation Information - Ambrose A. Call
Backbone State Park Delaware County Dundee Reservation Information - Backbone
Badger Creek State Recreation Area Madison County Van Meter No reservable facilities
Banner Lakes at Summerset State Park Warren County Carlisle No reservable facilities
Beeds Lake State Park Franklin County Hampton Reservation Information - Beeds Lake
Bellevue State Park Jackson County Bellevue Reservation Information - Bellevue
Big Creek State Park Polk County Polk City Reservation Information - Big Creek
Blackburn State Park Fremont County Thurman City No reservable facilities
Black Hawk State Park Sac County Lake View Reservation Information - Black Hawk
Brushy Creek State Recreation Area Webster County Lehigh Reservation Information - Brushy Creek
Cedar Rock Buchanan County Independence No reservable facilities
Clear Lake State Park Cerro Gordo County Clear Lake Reservation Information - Clear Lake
Dolliver Memorial State Park Webster County Lehigh Reservation Information - Dolliver
Elinor Bedell State Park Dickinson County Spirit Lake Reservation Information - Dickinson
Elk Rock State Park Marion County Knoxville Reservation Information - Elk Rock
Emerson Bay State Recreation Area Dickinson County Milford Reservation Information - Emerson Bay
Fairport State Recreation Area Muscatine County Muscatine Reservation Information - Fairport
Fort Atkinson State Preserve Winneshiek County Fort Atkinson No reservable facilities
Fort Defiance State Park Emmet County Estherville Reservation Information - Fort Defiance
Geode State Park Henry County Danville Reservation Information - Geode
George Wyth State Park Black Hawk County Waterloo Reservation Information - George Wyth
Green Valley State Park Union County Creston Reservation Information - Green Valley
Gull Point State Park Dickinson County Milford Reservation Information - Gull Point
Honey Creek Resort Appanoose County Moravia Reservation Information - Honey Creek Resort
Honey Creek State Park Appahoose County Moravia Reservation Information - Honey Creek
Lacey Keosauqua State Park Van Buren County Keosauqua Reservation Information - Lacey Keosauqua
Lake Ahquabi State Park Warren County Indianola Reservation Information - Lake Ahquabi
Lake Anita State Park Cass County Anita Reservation Information - Lake Anita
Lake Darling State Park Washington County Brighton Reservation Information - Lake Darling
Lake Keomah State Park Mahaska County Oskaloosa Reservation Information - Lake Keomah
Lake Macbride State Park Johnson County Solon Reservation Information - Lake Macbride
Lake Manawa State Park Pottawattamie County Council Bluffs Reservation Information - Lake Manawa
Lake of Three Fires State Park Taylor County Bedford Reservation Information - Lake of Three Fires
Lake Wapello State Park Davis County Drakesville Reservation Information - Lake Wapello
Ledges State Park Boone County Madrid Reservation Information - Ledges
Lewis and Clark State Park Monona County Onawa Reservation Information - Lewis and Clark
Lower Gar State Recreation Area Dickinson County Arnolds Park No reservable facilities
Loess Hills State Forest HarrisonCounty Pisgah No reservable facilities
Maquoketa Caves State Park Jackson County Maquoketa Reservation Information - Maquoketa Caves
Marble Beach State Recreation Area Dickinson County Orleans Reservation Information - Marble Beach
McIntosh Woods State Park Cerro Gordo County Ventura Reservation Information - McIntosh Woods
Mines of Spain State Rec Area Dubuque County Dubuque No reservable facilities
Mini-Wakan State Park Dickinson County Spirit Lake No reservable facilities
Nine Eagles State Park Decatur County Davis City Reservation Information - Nine Eagles
Okamanpedan State Park Emmet County Dolliver No reservable facilities
Palisades-Kepler State Park Linn County Mt. Vernon Reservation Information - Palisades-Kepler
Pikes Peak State Park Clayton County McGregor Reservation Information - Pikes Peak
Pikes Point State Park Dickinson County Spirit Lake Reservation Information - Pikes Point
Pilot Knob State Park Hancock County Forest City Reservation Information - Pilot Knob
Pine Lake State Park Hardin County Eldora Reservation Information - Pine Lake
Pleasant Creek State Recreation Area Linn County Palo Reservation Information - Pleasant Creek
Prairie Rose State Park Shelby County Harlan Reservation Information - Prairie Rose
Preparation Canyon State Park Monona County Moorhead No reservable facilities
Red Haw State Park Lucas County Chariton Reservation Information - Red Haw
Rice Lake State Park Winnebago County Lake Mills No reservable facilities
Rock Creek State Park Jasper County Kellogg Reservation Information - Rock Creek
Shimek State Forest Van Buren County Farmington Reservation Information - Shimek
Springbrook State Park Guthrie County Guthrie Center Reservation Information - Springbroook
Stephens State Forest Lucas County Lucas Reservation Information - Stephens
Stone State Park Woodbury County Sioux City Reservation Information - Stone
Templar State Recreation Area Dickinson County Spirit Lake Reservation Information - Templar
Trappers Bay State Park Dickinson County Spirit Lake No reservable facilities
Twin Lakes State Park Calhoun County Rockwell City Reservation Information - Twin Lakes
Union Grove State Park Tama County Gladbrook Reservation Information - Union Grove
Viking Lake State Park Montgomery County Stanton Reservation Information - Viking Lake
Volga River State Recreation Area Fayette County Fayette Reservation Information - Volga River
Walnut Woods State Park Polk County West Des Moines Reservation Information - Walnut Woods
Wapsipinicon State Park Jones County Anamosa Reservation Information - Wapsipinicon
Waubonsie State Park Fremont County Hamburg Reservation Information - Waubonsie
Wildcat Den State Park Muscatine County Muscatine Reservation Information - Wildcat Den
Wilson Island State Recreation Area Pottawattamie County Missouri Valley Reservation Information - Wilson Island
Yellow River State Forest Allamakee County Harpers Ferry Reservation Information - Yellow River