Our Town Maquoketa: Caves under construction, recreation area sees new faces

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MAQUOKETA, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- For years, officials have wanted to revamp the road that runs through the Maquoketa Caves State Park. In May, they closed the park and started the process.

The new road, new trails, camping sites with electricity upgrades, and more parking are all set to be available to the public on August 24. That will better accommodate the 300,000 to 350,000 visitors the park sees each year.

“We can’t wait for the caves to open back up, and bring the people back,” Friends of the Maquoketa Caves State Park member Kerry Schepers said.

She said the park director, his two full time staff, and nearly 30 volunteers have worked full time getting everything ready.
“Pruning, changing, digging, putting out new trails, and woodwork,” Schepers said.

While people wait for the caves to re-open, the city encourages others to stop by the new Prairie Creek Recreation Area.

It is a mile long outdoor experience with fishing, canoeing, bluffs, trails, and a shelter for rental. A local man’s estate gifted it in March of 2014 for the entire community to enjoy.

“It ties into the city, and to the county on the other side, and Prairie Creek runs through it. It’s just a beautiful area,” Jackson County Supervisor and Conservation Board Member Larry McDevitt said. “It’s really new, and we’re just excited about it. It’s a great addition; it’s going to bring a lot more people to the county.”

Crews are moving on to phase two of the recreation area, which means adding above flood stage campgrounds. Construction work is set to begin next spring, and McDevitt said it should finish up by 2020.

If you would like to learn more about the caves grand re-opening visit this website.