Palisades-Kepler State Park Professional Guide
Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook
"“The valley of the red cedar is in eastern Iowa, a long strip of fertile land sprawling out besides the river whose name it bears.” So said native Iowan Bess Streeter Aldrich of the Cedar River Valley in her book Song of Years. The palisades for which the park was named are sheer 60-foot-high cliffs that loom over the valley of the red cedar. Hiking trails traverse the palisade crests and the forested hills of the park, which doubles as a rock-climber’s paradise.
To stand above an eastern Iowa river, whose downward action has cut a wide chasm in the surrounding forested hills, is to see that river not only for what it is but for what it once was. The resistant dolomite cliffs towering above the Cedar River at Palisades-Kepler were deposited 420 to 440 million years ago, when they were muddy tropical reef–like masses on the Silurian Sea floor. Colonial coral, crinoid beds, and brachiopod fossils found in the mounds of the exposed Scotch Grove and Gower Formations paint a picture of a sea that was very different from those of today. Organisms that once inhabited shallow marine shelves are now deepwater dwelling, their old niches having been commandeered during the last 400-plus million years."