The beauty of the canyons and bluffs of Ledges have made it major attraction to the local communities. Ledges was proposed as a state park as early as 1914. The first park custodian, Carl Fritz Henning, was appointed in 1921. In 1924, the Ledges officially became one of Iowa's first state parks.
The park facilities were constructed of native timber and field stone by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930's. The facilities include an arch stone bridge, shelter in Oak Woods, stone trail steps and the stone shelter in lower Ledges.
The sandstone cliffs that give the area the name Ledges were the result of glacial melting. Ledges still floods regularly by the nearby Des Moines River. The major flood water levels have been recorded on a "flood pole" located in the lower area of the park.