A vintage car tour passes through Iowa State Parks on Saturday
The Century-old car tour of state parks will make stops at Ledges, Big Creek and Spring Lake parks on Saturday as part of a quest to visit all of Iowa’s state parks to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Iowa State Park System, established in 1920.
The public is invited to join the tour in their own cars, although their vehicles are not vintage or classic.
Visits to the park were originally scheduled for 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic got in the way. Newly rescheduled, it debuted in southeast Iowa on Oct. 9 for a six-day event at 22 parks.
The planned visit includes a three-day visit this week to eight parks in southwest Iowa. The third and final loop of the 2021 trip will last two days to visit six parks in west-central Iowa, including Ledges. Consult the schedule on annareamodela.com/westcentral.
These driving tours offer scenic viewpoints, short walks and, in some cases, tours led by park officials. The route tries to stay on paved side roads as much as possible to avoid heavy traffic. You can register at any time during the trip.
Former state park chief Kevin Szcodronski is organizing these stops. He had a 35-year career with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. As he retired in 2013, he said commemorating the 100th anniversary was something he had looked forward to doing for years.
Based in Ankeny, he organized a four-person Iowa State Parks Centennial Citizens Committee. The committee undertook two key projects: helped publish the book “Iowa State Parks – A Century of Stewardship 1920-2020” and organized the State Parks Centennial Vintage Auto Tour.
Szcodronski leads the tours while driving Anna Rea in her 1930 Ford Model A.
“When I first started looking at this car I realized that it was really this vintage automobile that brought the public to state parks because it was more reliable, a little faster and people could take a day trip – maybe 30, 40 miles – to go to those public spaces and back, ”he said.
While the tour focuses on vintage or classic cars, attendees can have fun in any vehicle of their choice. Those looking to visit Ledges State Park can join Boone at Veterans Memorial Park, 821 Story St. at 11:30 am on Saturdays.
The participants’ caravan, traveling at around 40 mph, will leave Boone in time to arrive at Ledges State Park at 12:30 p.m. A few members of Friends of the Ledges will be on hand to give an overview of the park.
Ledges State Park Superintendent Andy Bartlett said he hopes the Ledges stop will give people a better appreciation of the uniqueness of state parks as a system.
“They protect some of the most unique and impressive resources to be found anywhere in the state. The driving tour is just another great way to highlight the importance of our state parks, ”Bartlett said.
Prior to Ledges, a group will meet in Polk Town Square at 8 a.m. before a 9 a.m. stop at Big Creek State Park.
Leaving Ledges, the tour will go to Spring Lake State Park near Jefferson to end the day. Szcodronski will be joined by crew member Ann Raisch from Eldora. From 1963 to 1973, she helped run a family concession and boat rental in Union Grove State Park.
“We try to give local people the opportunity to express their appreciation and interest in the state park closest to them,” Szcodronski said. “You will visit the most beautiful parts of Iowa and meet some of our best people. Take this challenge to spot wildlife in road ditches, have more time to enjoy barn art, greet oncoming drivers, and honk at people along the road who greet us.
The remaining four loops and 58 parks will be scheduled for some time in 2022.