Activities

 
Camping Camping at Central Park

Enjoy camping at Central Park with modern, semi modern and primitive camping available on a first come first serve basis.  Park hours 4:30 AM - 10:30 PM.  Quiet hours 9 PM - 8 AM. Camping available April 15 - October 15 weather permitting.

  • STORM DAMAGE UPDATES:ATTN: The trails at Central Park are currently closed as storm cleanup continues.  Please avoid storm debris and workers actively working to clean it up.  ROAD CLOSURE:Intermittent road closures within the park are possible Monday thru Friday as park staff are working to clean up storm debris.  Thank you for your patience.
Canoeing & Kayaking Canoeing & Kayaking at Central Park

This 297 acre park includes a 25 acre lake as well as a 7 acre pond.  Paddleboat and kayak rentals are available Thursday - Sunday 10 am - 8 pm from Memorial Day - Labor Day weather permitting.  (Life jackets are provided with the rentals) Paddleboat and Kayak Rentals are $10/hour or $5/half hour.  Visit the Camp Host for rental and payment.

Otherwise, bring your own kayak or canoe and enjoy a leisurely float around the picturesque lake.

 

Canoeing & Kayaking Canoeing & Kayaking at Pictured Rocks
People today enjoy the river by water and from shore. The Maquoketa River has several public river access points in Jones County including the Mon Maq Dam Access, Pictured Rocks, Indian Bluffs, Hwy 136 Access, and Supples Access.
Canoeing & Kayaking Canoeing & Kayaking at Oxford Mills
Oxford Mills provides canoe and boat access to the Wapsipinicon River.  A paved ramp can be found at the west/upstream edge of the property.  A large picnic shelter provides a nice resting and picnicing site.  This area includes a primitive restroom facility.
Education Education at Hamilton Tapken Prairie Preserve

This 80 acre site includes many rare and uncommon species of prairie flowers and grasses and is managed as a prairie preserve open to hunting.  Preservation and enhancement of the sites rare plant and animal communities are a primary goal of future management.  The area is also priceless in terms of educational opportunities for local school groups and anyone interested in learning more about Iowa’s native landscape. 

 Hamilton Tapken Prairie Preserve Map

Education Education at Central Park

The Central Park Nature Center has several educational displays, hands on activities and live animal exhibits which can be viewed weekdays Monday - Friday.  It is also the main office for the Jones County Conservation Board.  It is recommended to call the office at ph:563-487-3541 to ensure it is open since off site programs and outdoor activities may require closing the Nature Center for short periods of time.

From Memorial Day through Labor Day the Nature Center is open from 1 PM -  5 PM on Saturdays and Sundays.

JUNE 2020 -COVID 19 ALERT - The Central Park Nature Center is now open for viewing by appointment or walk-in when time slots are available.  Please call the administrative office at (563)487-3541, Ext 1 or Ext 3, to set up an appointment. Family groups of 6 or less can sign up for 1/2 hour time slots to walk through the center.  Many hand-on exhibits are currently closed or removed at this time.  Live animals are not being used in hands-on programs.  Anyone entering the Nature Center will need to complete a short COVID 19 health screening, sign-in, and wash hands before entering the exhibit and office space.  Face masks are encouraged.   We encourage everyone to continue to enjoy outdoor opportunities and adventure at Central Park while you await the return of close quarter indoor fun. 

Facility Rentals Facility Rentals at Central Park

The enclosed pavilion near the beach at Central Park and the 2 cabins located on the south side of the lake are available to reserve. 

Please call 563-487-3541 ext. 1 to make the reservation.  All reservations require at least 3 days to process the reservation and payment.

Fishing Fishing at Central Park
This 297 acre park includes a 25 acre lake and a 7 acre pond.  Both have good populations of largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, and catfish for those who enjoy fishing. 
Fishing Fishing at Oxford Junction Wildlife Area

This public area emerged from the Wapsipinicon River floodplain because the river has a habit of leaving its banks.

561 acres; 3/4 grassland, 1/4 timber/wetlands

Fishing Fishing at Hale Wildlife Area

Hale Wildlife Area includes 8 wetlands and 6 Ponds.  Three of the wetlands or catch basins were constructed upstream from ponds to improve water quality and add diversity for wildlife.  The ponds are stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill, black crappie and channel catfish.  The area is walk in only, no motorized vehicles.

Hale Wildlife Area Map

Hunting Hunting at Eby's Mill Wildlife Area
Dolomite rock outcrops, bluffs, and scenic river views dominate this predominately wooded area. Over the years, the Bruggeman family used timber stand improvement management on this site, encouraging a high quality woodland community dominated by oak, hickory, and walnut.  One 18 acre walnut planting was added in 1989.  Some areas of the woodlands include hard maples and linden trees.    The area is open to hunting, hiking, bird watching and cross country skiing
Hunting Hunting at Hale Wildlife Area
This undeveloped 260 acre natural area accessible by foot includes areas for hunting, ponds that are stocked with Largemouth Bass, Bluegill and Channel Catfish and 2.7 miles of hiking trails.  The restored ponds, wetlands, and prairie, as well as a small wooded draw, provide vital habitat and recreational opportunities.  The area is walk-in only, no motorized vehicles. 
Other Activities Other Activities at Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks is cooperatively managed by the Jones County Conservation Board and the Iowa DNR.  Jones County manages about 70 acres, which includes the area open to rappeling and rock climbing on the map.  The Iowa DNR manages in excess of 1,000 acres as a wildlife management area, open to hunting, fishing, paddling and hiking.

ROCK CLIMBING

Getting to know Pictured Rocks: Collin’s Wall is right at the parking lot. Gumby Wall is left of Collin’s Wall, it is the wall and detatched pillar which can be seen right before you take your left into the parking lot on the left side. Chicago Wall can be reached by going to the right instead of left. The rest of the walls are accessed from the main trail as you walk farther into the park. Due to the steep narrow road leading down into Pictured Rocks a gate is closed and locked at the beginning of the winter season.  Contact the Jones County Ranger at (563)487-5038 for more specific information on gate closure dates.  Pictured Rocks Climbing Map

 

 

 

Picnicking Picnicking at Central Park
Central Park has several picnic tables throughout the park as well as an open air shelter to enjoy a picnic.  Explore the many trails, play at the playground, swim by the beach or visit the Nature Center.  Enjoy a leisurely walk along the ADA sidewalk and step out onto the new fishing pier. 
Picnicking Picnicking at Pictured Rocks
Pictured Rocks has picnic tables as well as an open air shelter to enjoy a picnic or find a shady spot and lay down a blanket.
Swimming Swimming at Central Park

Located near the center of Jones County, this 297 acre park includes a 25 acre lake (newly renovated) as well as a 7 acre pond.   A playground area, swimming beach and sand volleyball court are near the enclosed pavilion next to the 25 acre lake.  The beach is open to the public for enjoyment but no life guard is on duty.  Swimming is at your own risk and children should be with an adult when near the beach / water area.

Paddleboats and kayaks are available for rent Thursday - Sunday for $5/half hour and $10/hour.  Visit the Camp Host to pay and reserve during those times.

Trails & Hiking Trails & Hiking at Central Park

Central Park has many trails to enjoy on your next visit.  You will be able to see an abundance of wildlife, trees, grasses and beauty along the various paths. 

  • STORM DAMAGE UPDATES:  The trails at Central Park are currently closed as storm cleanup continues.  Please avoid storm debris and workers actively working to clean it up.  ROAD CLOSURE:Intermittent road closures within the park are possible Monday thru Friday as park staff are working to clean up storm debris.  Thank you for your patience.
Trails & Hiking Trails & Hiking at Pictured Rocks
Hiking trails transverse the undeveloped hardwood forest at Pictured Rocks and the adjacent state preserve, Indian Bluffs.  Several small caves along the bluff face attract spelunkers from across Iowa.  This 1,138 acre wildlife management area can be found along the banks of the Maquoketa River. It is named for the steep limestone bluffs that enclose the narrow river valley.
Trails & Hiking Trails & Hiking at Scotch Grove Prairie

Once farmland, this area has become 69 acres of restored prairie and seasonal wetlands. The project was undertaken in 1999 by the Twin Rivers chapter of Pheasants Forever and is now owned and managed by the Jones County Conservation Board.  Author of a “Prairie Reunion” and native resident, Barb Scot, sold these 69 acres at a discounted price with the agreement that the area be restored to tall grass prairie.   

 

 Scotch Grove Prairie Trails Map

 

Trails & Hiking Trails & Hiking at Whitewater Canyon
Whitewater Canyon and Wildlife Management Area is cooperatively managed by the Dubuque and Jones County Conservation Boards.  This area features a large parking lot, interpretive signage, and a hiking trail system.  Scenic overlooks and vistas as well as several caves and rock shelters await to be discovered.  Those willing to work can enjoy hunting and stream fishing.  Winter opportunities include snowshoeing and cross country skiing on ungroomed trails.
Trails & Hiking Trails & Hiking at Hale Wildlife Area

This 260-acre area, located northeast of Hale, includes 6 ponds, 8 wetlands, 197 acres of upland and prairie and 45 acres of trees.

 

Hale Wildlife Area Map with Trails

 

 

Winter Activities Winter Activities at Whitewater Canyon

Winter opportunities include snowshoeing and cross country skiing on ungroomed trails.  Road access may be closed during and directly following severe winter weather. 

 

Whitewater Canyon Map of Trails

Whitewater Lost Canyon Map

Winter Activities Winter Activities at Central Park

Dress warm and spend some time ice fishing in the newly renovated 25 lake or the 7 acre back pond.  Both are stocked and ready for fishing opportunities.  Remember snowshoes are available for use within the Park.  Schedule a time to checkout a pair of snowshoes from the Jones County Naturalist and try your snowshoeing skills.  Some areas within the park work well for cross country skiing.  Bring your own skis and give it a try.