Enjoy environmental learning at other nature centers in northwest Iowa

The Iowa Great Lakes area is full of environmental opportunities, from recreating on the lakes to hiking county and state parks to bird watching.

After people experience the many interactive exhibits and live animals at the Dickinson County Nature Center in Okoboji, they often ask where else they can find fun nature-related things to do in the region.

So here are six places within 70 miles of Okoboji that you can visit for even more environmental fun.


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Spirit Lake Fish Hatchery (7.2 miles)

122 252nd Ave., Spirit Lake


Open 8 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. weekdays, with additional hours during spawning season

Visit the Spirit Lake Fish Hatchery to see tanks with live fish found in the Iowa Great Lakes as well as live painted and snapping turtles. Touch wildlife pelts, view animal mounts and request to watch a video on the hatchery process. You can also walk through the production facility with incubators, indoor raceways and stock tanks.

The annual hatching period for walleye, northern pike and muskellunge begins in March and runs through April, at which time the hatchery is open extended hours for the public to view the live fish and the hatching process.


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Photo from Palo Alto County Conservation Board website

Lost Island Nature Center (27.3 miles)

3267 350th Ave., Ruthven


Open 9 a.m.-noon Wednesday-Friday and 1-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday (January-February) or 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and 1-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday (March-December)

Explore an indoor wetland area, wildlife mounts and a variety of environmental exhibits. Enjoy the view of birds outside as well as a panorama of Lost Island Lake.


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Photo from the Emmet County Conservation Facebook

Emmet County Nature Center (28.8 miles)

6 miles east of Wallingford on County Road N40


Open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday, dependent on staff availability, call ahead

Visit the beautiful nature center to see wildlife displays, live animals, a fish tank with area fish species and to touch fur pelts and feathers.


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Photo from the Prairie Heritage Center Facebook

Prairie Heritage Center (47.5 miles)

4931 Yellow Ave., Peterson


Open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 1-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday

See a bison mount in person and learn about the tallgrass prairie through indoor exhibits. View live bison outdoors and bald eagles scavenging on the prairie along the Little Sioux River. Traveling exhibits vary depending on the season.


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Photo from Water's Edge Nature Center website

Water's Edge Nature Center (62.9 miles)

1010 250th St., Algona


Open 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays and 1-4 p.m. weekends

At the Kossuth County Conservation Board nature center see beautiful taxidermy, re-creations of an Iowa wetland, woodland and prairie and an overlook of Smith Lake.


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Photo from Pocahontas County Conservation Facebook

Pocahontas County Conservation Nature Center (68 miles)

702 N.W. Seventh St., Pocahontas


Open 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. weekdays

Stop in to see live animals, touch Iowa animal pelts, view a variety of Iowa wildlife skulls and learn through informational exhibits.


Slow down at Pioneer Park Nature Preserve

So many people crest the hill on Highway 71, coming north into the south side of Milford, and get a beautiful overlook of the Milford Creek, a tributary of the Little Sioux River. But did you know that you can take a right and actually walk through part of that beautiful area? Pioneer Park Nature Read More »

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Top 10 winter activities in our county parks

We live in Iowa because we like seasons. If we didn’t like seeing leaves bud in the spring and fall in autumn, if we didn’t like to see snowflakes dust the ground, if we didn’t like to a warm fire outside on a cool evening, we would all live in the tropics. This winter has Read More »

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A stroll through Westport Park

I hate to admit this publicly, but I had not been to Dickinson County Conservation’s Westport Park until yesterday. We are always a little surprised when people come into the nature center and have lived in the area for years without ever visiting before. However, it’s the same way with county parks. Some of our Read More »

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A stroll through Judd Wildlife Area

At the end of summer, Snapchat had a feed where users from Iowa could post videos to share with the rest of the world. My husband and I took our dog on a walk through the Dickinson County Conservation Board’s Judd Wildlife Area south of Milford, and we took a short video of us walking Read More »

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A stroll through the Little Sioux Savanna

The Dickinson County Conservation Board has two new parcels of land on 195th Avenue, south of County Road A-34 in Milford. We worked hard this summer at the Little Foote Forest parcel, attempting to eradicate some of the invasive garlic mustard on the plot, but I had yet to walk through the Little Sioux Savanna parcel Read More »

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A stroll through Kenue Park

The scent of fall is in the air. To me the scent of fall means dry leaves, wood smoke and a hint of chill to the air. Take a breath and it awakens the spirit. My eyes open wider and search for the beautiful change of colors. My lungs take in the sweet aroma. On Read More »

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