Native Americans were the first humans to inhabit the area now known as Stone Park. Although little is known specifically about their activities in Stone Park, the area would certainly have been used during hunting activities, migration and possibly for encampments. The Dakota Sioux were the last Native American group to inhabit what is now northwest Iowa. They inhabited the area when Lewis and Clark ascended the Missouri River in 1804 and passed close to Stone Park.
In 1885, Daniel Hector Talbot began buying land that would later become Stone Park. Click here for more information about Mt. Talbot State Preserve. Talbot was well known for the various animals he raised, including: elk, bear, bison, wolves, and monkeys. Thomas Jefferson Stone acquired the Talbot farm in 1895. Stone's son, Edgar, began developing the area into a park in 1905. Sioux City acquired the land from the Stone family in 1912 and continued to develop roads, picnic areas, and a zoo. In 1935, the city sold the property to the state of Iowa.
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp was located in the northwestern area of the park from 1935 to 1939. The CCC were responsible for constructing the majority of the park's facilities, including: entrance portals, staff residences, the Calumet shelter, and the rustic Stone lodge. The park was once the home for the Salvation Army, Boy Scout, and Girl Scout camps.
Facilities and Activities
A visit to Stone Park would not be complete without a visit to the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center. The center features a variety of interpretive displays, including a "walk-under" prairie, a 400-gallon aquarium of native fish, and natural history dioramas. A children's discovery area provides opportunity to handle furs, antlers, fossils, and other artifacts. Two miles of hiking trails exist around the nature center. The hours are: Tues. - Saturday, 9a.m.-4:30 p.m., Sunday, 1-4:30 p.m. Closed Mondays and Holidays. The center is managed by the Woodbury County Conservation Board. For more information call (712) 258-0838.
Stone State Park is a great place for a family picnic. Three open shelters are available and may be reserved online through the park reservation system. Picnic areas are located throughout the park and many offer beautiful views of the Loess Hills and surrounding area. Picnic areas contain tables and grills for use by the public.
A day-use lodge may be reserved for a fee from May 1 through October 15. Click on the picture to see a larger image of the lodge. The Stone lodge is used for picnics, receptions, and family reunions. The lodge contains a refrigerator, microwave, and modern restrooms. The lodge may reserved online through the park reservation system.
The campground includes electric hookup, modern restroom and showers. A large youth group campsite is also available for use by chaperoned organized youth groups. Advance campsite reservations can be made through the park reservation system. One fourth of the campsites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The camping cabins are heated/air-conditioned with no sanitary facilities but are located near the campground with showers and restroom. The camping cabins have one full size futon bed, counter top with microwave, dorm size refrigerator, dining table with 4 chairs, outside fire pit and outside picnic table. The camping cabins can be reserved online through the park reservation system. The camping cabins may be rented from May 1 to October 15 of each year.
Trails in the park are used by a variety of visitors and not all uses are compatible with one another. For the safety of all park visitors, and the protection of the park's resources; bicyclists, snowmobilers, and horseback riders are required to stay on trails designated for their use. Snowmobiling is also permitted on unplowed roadways unless marked otherwise. Trails may be closed temporarily by the park ranger if conditions are wet or otherwise unsafe. Call the park office for the latest trail conditions.
Stone State Park contains 6 miles of equestrian trails, 6 miles of mountain bike and snowmobile trails and 8 miles of hiking and cross-country skiing trails.
Visitors are attracted to the rugged topography of Stone Park, which is typical of the Loess Hills of western Iowa. The park offers many scenic vistas of wooded valleys, dry prairie ridges, the Big Sioux River, and the neighboring states of South Dakota and Nebraska. The 220 mile-long Loess Hills Scenic Byway passes through the park.
Stone Park is located entirely in the unique Loess Hills. The Loess Hills start a few miles north of the park and stretch south to the Iowa-Missouri border. The steep hills were formed over a very long period of time, between 18,000 and 150,000 years ago. Glacial action pulverized rock into fine quartz particles. During dry periods, these fine particles were deposited by the wind. Loess (pronounced "luss") means wind blown silt.
Wildlife and Plants
Stone Park is recognized nationally as an "Urban Wildlife Sanctuary". Wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, coyotes, and red foxes can be found here. A variety of birds can be seen including: turkey vultures, barred owls, rufous-sided towhees, and ovenbirds. Rare butterflies, such as the Pawnee skipper and Olympia white, are found on the prairie ridges.
Bur oak is the predominant tree species in the park. Late April and early May are the best times to view the woodland wildflowers. A wide array of prairie plants can be found on the steep, dry slopes, including: yucca, penstemon, rough blazing star, silky aster, and pasque flower. The Mt. Talbot State Preserve covers the northern most 90 acres of the park.
Bird Watching, Camping - Electric, Camping - Nonelectric, Camping - Walk-to/Hike-in, Camping - Youth Group, Camping Cabins, Cross Country Skiing, Day-use Lodge, Dock, Fishing, Fishing, Geological Formations, Hiking, Horseback Riding, Horseshoe Pits, Interpretive Center, Interpretive Programs, Jogging/Running, Kayaking, Modern Campground, Mountain Biking, Park Lake, Picnic Area, Picnic Shelter, Playground, Restrooms, River, Scenic Driving Routes, Showers, Snowmobiling, Trail, Interpretive, Trails, Cross Country Skiing, Trails, Equestrian, Trails, Hiking, Trails, Mountain Bike, Trails, Snowmobile, Water Hydrants , Wildflower Viewing, Wildlife Viewing
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