Iowa DNR closes some state parks indefinitely, other partially closed following Monday’s derecho

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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCAU) – Monday’s derecho hit a large portion of Iowa and left several state parks with significant damage forcing some closures due to unsafe conditions.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is continuing to work diligently to assess the damage left behind by the derecho.

The DNR stated that most of the damage left behind included downed trees and tree limbs from the significant winds. DNR staff is asking visitors to use extreme caution when visiting any parks that have remained open.

The DNR said their top priority is the safety of any visitors at the state parks.

The DNR has closed the following parks:

  • Palisades-Kepler State Park in Linn County
  • Pleasant Creek State Recreation Area in Linn County
  • Lake Macbride State Park in Johnson County
  • Wapsipinicon State Park in Jones County.

The DNR stated that the parks listed above are completely closed until further notice. The DNR staff continues to assess the extent of damage and are starting to work on clean-up efforts. The parks above will remain closed to the public until they can be safely reopened.

The DNR has partially closed the following parks:

  • Rock Creek State Park in Jasper County:
    • The park is without power, which is affecting water pressure and access.
    • The DNR noted that 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 still open but is also without power.
  • Big Creek State Park in Polk County:
    • The DNR said that the park has no power and is without phone service.
    • Sections of the park may be temporarily closed as DNR staff continues to clean-up storm debris.
    • The DNR noted that boat ramps may be closed on the east side of the park as courtesy docks were damaged and are being removed.
    • They also said that the marina concession will remain closed through August 16.
    • Neal Smith Trail between Sycamore and Saylor Creek also remains closed due to construction.
  • Ledges State Park in Boone County:
    • The park is without power and phone service.
    • The DNR said the campground is open but has no electricity and that full hook-up sites do not have water or sewer service. The campground dump station is currently closed.
    • They also stated that the 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 of the trails are free of storm debris.
  • Union Grove State Park in Tama County:
    • The park is without power and phone service.
    • The DNR stated that the rental cabins remain closed and the trails are not open at this time.
    • They also said that the campground is open with flush toilets available, but there is no hot water or electricity.
  • Walnut Woods State Park in Polk County:
    • The park has no phone or internet services.
    • Park staff availability is limited as they are busy assessing the damage throughout the park, according to the DNR.
  • Wildcat Den State Park in Muscatine County:
    • The DNR stated that some trails may be inaccessible at this time.
    • Park visitors may still access the trails, but large limbs and downed trees should be expected. The DNR would like visitors to use caution when hiking around the large limbs and downed trees.

DNR staff is encouraging park visitors to avoid areas with debris and parks that are busy with assessing damage and removing debris.

The DNR is asking that visitors alert park staff if they notice damage on the trails or other areas that have not been blocked off.

The DNR said they will directly contact anyone with reservations affected by the current closures to issue refunds.

For a list of Iowa State Parks closures and alerts click here.

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