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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.


james connolly

Thursday, June 21, 2018
Great place for a quick hike. The Cedar Cliff Trail has some great scenery and vistas. It's about a mile long, it meanders along the Cedar River bluff overlooking the river below and is moderately strenuous. It's not a loop, it just dead ends but the scenery is nice enough we didn't mind turning around and walking it back again. It's not marked the best but not hard to follow if you stay on the obvious main trail. There's a few unauthorized side trails that can be kind of treacherous and lead to who knows where. Stick to the main trail and won't have any problems. Cool Hollow Trail looks to be a good hike also but we didn't have time to hike it that day.

Mark G

Wednesday, July 4, 2018
Very nice, quiet park. Prices cheap $16 / site with electricity and $11 without. By 10:30, park closes to visitors and everyone is quiet. Sites pretty close to one another but with a big RV next to you, you have privacy. On day 1, we hiked within the park on its many trails along the water guaranteeing you to see deer. On day 2,drive 15 miles to Lake McBride to rent kayaks /canoes and relax on the small beach next to rental shop.

Mindy Seiffert

Wednesday, July 4, 2018
This park is a beautiful setting just off of Hwy 30. Have been here numerous times to hike and attend events at The Lodge. However, kayaked from here to Sutliff today on the Cedar River and was very pleased. Easy to get in and out. Suspect if the water was lower, there would have been some nice sandbars too.

Joseph Peterson

Saturday, July 7, 2018
The kids and I have enjoyed the park every time we've gone. Trails are well maintained, the people we've met there have all been friendly. I highly recommend this location if your looking to take a hike.

Sayan Das

Tuesday, June 5, 2018
Very beautiful trails along the hills. You can get a wonderful view of the Cedar river from many points on the trails. There are nice walks along the river as well. The hills are covered in lush green forests, and walking can be a pleasant experience, except for the fact that there are zillions of flying bugs and mosquitoes to take the joy out of walking. Be sure to have some insect repellent on you. The park office doesn't provide much info except for a trail map. In fact the park office wasn't well maintained at all. Lots of parking spots at different trailheads though. Pet friendly. There are places to take a dip in the Cedar river. Overall a nice quiet place. 4 stars.

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