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Little known areas of Cedar Rapids

By Nick Edwards
On February 21, 2014

  • The entrance to Palisades-Kepler state park. Jeff Sigmund


Springtime is around the corner. Students may find themselves bored and wanting to get outside when it starts warming up. However, it may be difficult deciding where to go if one not familiar with the area. Cedar Rapids has a lot of offerings when it comes to places that allow people to enjoy time outside. 

The Palisades-Kepler State Park is located west of Mount Vernon. With the park's 840 acres there is plenty to explore, according to The majority of Palisades can be navigated through approximately six miles of trails.

If hiking is unappealing, there are a lot of different activities that one can do such as camping, fishing and picnicking. 

Next to the Palisades there is the Eastern Iowa Observatory. John Leeson, Eastern Iowa Observatory Director, said there are 12 public programs presented at the observatory each year. Anyone is allowed to attend these events at no charge. Leeson said they try to hold one event every month during the year, with the exception of a few winter months. 

Leeson stated the winter weather has a tendency to make the roads treacherous. Leeson also added the events which are not held during these winter months are moved into different ones.

Anyone can visit the observatory at anytime of the day throughout the year but the use of equipment is not available to everyone. According to only members of Cedar Amateur Astronomers Incorporated are allowed to use the equipment. 

For students who enjoy biking for fun or as a workout, there are a few trails available to the public in Cedar Rapids. The Beverly Park trails are located next to Highway 30 and Edgewood Road.

The Linn Area Mountain Bike Association (LAMBA) worked with the International Mountain Bicycle Association (IMBA) to bring these mountain biking trails to Cedar Rapids, according to

The park includes nearly five miles of trail weaving through the park's trees. The trail has plenty of turns and hills to give riders a workout. The trail is designed for single riders, as the trail is narrow.

Morgan Creek Park is located in southwest Linn County. The 230-acre park provides a wide area to explore. 

Morgan Creek is a habitat for a number of wild animals and it wouldn't be a rare occurrence  to see deer in the park. During the wintertime, if weather permits, the park also has a cross-country skiing trail.

All of these parks are free to the public and are within a short driving distance from campus.

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