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CEDAR ROCK – The Iowa DNR First Day Hike Challenge recorded at least 3,000 check-ins statewide last weekend.

“Some people visited as many as 15 parks,” said Julie Tack, DNR state parks media contact.

The First Day Hike Challenge took the place of the traditional guided hikes this year due to COVID-19. To participate, park visitors could check into any of the more than 50 participating state parks on the digital State Park Passport app. Every check-in qualified for a prize drawing of a two-night stay at a two-bedroom cabin at Lake Darling State Park near Brighton.

The free digital State Park Passport was created in 2020 to mark the 100th anniversary of Iowa State Parks. It was developed to encourage Iowans to discover new state parks and enjoy the outdoors, plus provide discounts to restaurants and tourist attractions near each state park. For each park visit, travelers earn a digital stamp in the passport app that qualified them for prizes. Because of the success in 2020, the Iowa DNR and Iowa Tourism Office plan to continue promotions using the passport to connect Iowans with state parks.

Visiting Cedar Rock Park on January 1 were Beyer family members Jeanette (grandma), Jayme (mom), and sisters Lauren, Lindsay, Lydia, and LeaAnn.

In addition to hiking around the property, they tried out the “CR QR” codes installed last summer.

The Cedar Rock Quick Response codes were placed at various locations along the park trail and historic Walter house grounds. Using a “smart device” to scan the codes, additional information about the natural or historical resources of that spot (i.e., photographs, videos, additional information, etc.) pop up.

“The QR codes were easy and fun to use,” said Jayme. “We had a lot of fun and learned a lot.”

For those who do not want to hike the park, a virtual tour was created through a partnership of the Friends of Cedar Rock, Bait Shop Productions, and Wilbur’s Aerial Services, LLC. The video may be seen in the gallery of the Friends of Cedar Rock website, friendsofcedarrock.org. It may also be found on YouTube by searching Friends of Cedar Rock.

Cedar Rock State Park is located between Quasqueton and Independence at 2611 Quasqueton Diagonal Boulevard, Independence.

For more information, call the visitor center at 319-934-3572, email cedar_rock@dnr.iowa.gov, or visit www.friendsofcedarrock.org.

To learn more about Iowa’s state parks, visit www.iowadnr.gov or traveliowa.com.

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