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Palisades-Kepler State Park and Cedar Falls

 

On our way to Minneapolis to visit our son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren, we stopped at Palisades-Kepler State Park in Iowa on November 23, 2021, and had a grand time walking the beach and up the stairs through the stone and down the trail to the gazebo. We continued to drive north until we were exhausted from driving and our eyes were tired from the lights of nighttime driving. We spontaneously ended up in a hotel in Grand Falls, Iowa. Our best times always seem to be the unplanned ones. Right outside the doors of the hotel was a quaint downtown with holiday lights and Christmas windows. We got some hot drinks (decaf coffee for him and hot chocolate for me) at the hotel lobby and walked the streets with cups in hand. What a delightful, but cold to the fingertips, date night.

Palisades-Kepler State Park is just east of Cedar Falls along the Cedar River. The campgrounds were very nice and the cabins were just above a trail leading down to the gazebo and trail to the beach.

We arrived near sunset on November 23, 2021 (more like about 3:30 p.m. and the sun was setting by 4:30 p.m.). It was a beautiful time to spend walking along the river.

When we walked out onto the beach, this is the view to the left. It was gorgeous! We imagined that during flooding water in the Spring we would not be able to walk out onto the sandy beach.

This is a view from the sandy beach looking to the right into the sunset. It is down this way where the dam is located and the rapids of the Cedar River. We could imagine lots of people in the summer crowding the beach, but other than a fisherman in a boat, we had the beach to ourselves.

On our beach walk we came across the stream that we had to jump over. Both of us got one foot wet! I bet younger folks could make it across. I can see young ones sitting in that stream playing, but the river could be dangerous, so parents should keep a good eye on them. I also imagine that next year it will look different!

Now the rapids are not anything to drive a long distance to see, but when on site, they brought delight to our adventures. I love listening to the sounds of water.

This is a closer view of the rapids and the bluffs across stream.

In this photo are beautiful blue skies at the peak of the beach looking at the rapids. It did appear to us that an old dam had broke pushing the water through just one small section. I wonder what it would have looked like when the dam was fully functional. I can imagine it was a beautiful waterfall.

We walked across the rocks (not really recommended!) to the rock wall that had stairs cut through it.

There is a small cave near the steps.

Here is a long shot of the steps and the archway through the rocks up to the top. How fun is that! We found such delight in it. My husband called it "tourist torture" but we did not find it too hard to climb.

Upward ho! This view is just so fun.

A view of the dam and the rapids from atop the steps.

As we drove down the other way along the river we came across a bunch of geese. This photo is just a small part of them. Later I heard someone scare them all and I had wanted to do that! I wanted to see them all fly away!

This is the beginning of the trail to the gazebo.

Here is a view of the gazebo overlooking the river.

This is a view up river from the gazebo overlook.

 

There were other trails and more things to explore, but for what we were able to see, we had a wonderful November day.