Ledges State Park

Ledges State Park is located in Boone County, four miles south of Boone. Dedicated as a state park in 1924, Ledges is one of the state's oldest state parks - its second, in fact. The geology of Ledges is diverse, and a unique feature in central Iowa. Surrounded by prairie, the park features a valley, 100 feet deep, lined with carboniferous sandstone ledges on either side of Pea’s Creek (a tributary of the Des Moines River). Humans have lived in the area for thousands of years. Archaeological evidence found in the park indicates human use going back at least 4,000 years. The park is home to a number of plants not normally found in central Iowa, and has been used by Iowa State University as an outdoor botany laboratory since the days of Louis Pammel in the early part of the 20th century.

There was a great deal of interest among Boone residents in making the Ledges area into a park. The area was proposed as a park as early as 1914. The Boone Chamber of Commerce organized the Ledges Park Association, with the goal of soliciting funds from Boone, Dallas and Story Counties. In addition, the Engineering Society of Boone contributed their time to survey the area. Carl Fritz Henning, a naturalist from the Boone area, was appointed Park Custodian on July 18, 1921. Henning had played a major role in the movement to establish Ledges as a state park.

Approximately 160,000 people visited the park during its first three years: from three-fourths of Iowa’s counties; the states of California, New York, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin; and the countries of China, England, and Switzerland.

In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed several structures from native timber and field stone. These can still be seen, and include a stone arch bridge, the Oak Woods and Lower Ledges Shelters, and stone trail steps.