Kenue Park: A Hidden Gem in Okoboji
Kenue Park, a 70-acre park, is a hidden gem tucked away in Okoboji, Iowa, located at 22785 Nature Center Road, just a short mile heading west off highway 71. Established in 1986 by the Dickinson County Conservation Board, the park has expanded from its original 40 acres through land acquisitions. Over the years, the park has seen many changes to its raw, beautiful landscape, all of which have enhanced the landscape without any negative impact.
The park is home to the Dickinson County Nature Center, and a winding paved bike trail runs through the property, with many mowed trails that allow visitors to explore the restored prairie or oak savanna. Visitors can also travel back in time and visit the one-room schoolhouse. The park also boasts a unique glacial land formation, a kame.
The Nature Center building itself was originally the Back Porch, a well-known area restaurant from Miller's Bay. It was moved on site and set inside Kenue Park, overlooking a beautiful pond. Visitors still recognize the building as the Back Porch. Over the years, the building has been enhanced with additions such as the deck overlooking the prairie and pond, and the Pollinator Paradise, a hands-on learning area dedicated to pollinator education. The building has two levels of exhibits, live animals, and a nature store. Outside, visitors can enjoy the Nature Playscape, adjacent to the Nature Center parking lot. The Nature Playscape features a rope ladder to a fort, logs and stumps to practice balancing on, an underground tunnel to crawl through, and sand to dig in, among other activities.
The park has many trails to explore, including the restored prairie, an ephemeral wetland, an observation tower, and a rehabilitated swan on the pond. Visitors can also take the bike trail and stroll under the towering oak trees. On the southwest corner of the park, there is a disc golf course. The 18-hole professional-level Okoboji Gold Disc Golf Course has both amateur and professional-level tees. Visitors must bring their own discs, but course maps and scorecards are available inside the main building.
Visitors can soak up some history by taking in Westport No. 5 one-room schoolhouse, the last remaining one-room schoolhouse in Dickinson County that was moved to Kenue Park in the 1990s. Tours are available mid-June through August.
Kenue Park is open year-round from sunup to sunset. Whatever your interests, it is the perfect place to step back, slow down and appreciate nature.