Hogsback Wildlife Area
|Located 4 miles North of Spirit
Lake on Hwy 276 and 1 mile West, this 160 acre prairie is a National
Natural Landmark and among the finest remaining examples of Iowa's
historic landscape. For more information stop at the DNR office
located at Kettleson Hogsback.
Prairie State Preserve
|This beautiful area is
designated as a State Botanical Preserve and Wildlife Management
Area, located 6 miles west of Spirit Lake on Hwy 9 or 4 miles east
of Lake Park and 2 miles south on a country graveled road. A parking
lot is provided along the county road on the southwest side of the
|Habitats within this park
include oak savanna forest, meadows, and a spectacular overlook from
the top of a glacial kame (a kame is a large bluff of glacial
deposit left by a river running into a "hole" of a
retreating glacier). Projects currently underway include a
reconstructed wetland, a "Spine Trail" extension to the
park, and the Westport Sesquicentennial Schoolhouse. Centrally
located in the heart of Dickinson County (one mile west of Hwy. 71
on 170th St.), this park has picnic areas, nature trails, a physical
fitness course, and modern bathrooms.
Bend County Wildlife Preserve
This 180-acre preserve, dissected by the Little Sioux River,
offers an extensive trail system winding through river valley and
upland forests, meadows, marshes, and oxbow ponds. This diversity
of habitats lends itself to a richness of animal life,
including deer, beaver, woodpeckers, songbirds, and hawks.
Wildlife management techniques used include wildflower planting,
wildlife food plots, and artificial nesting structures. Facilities
include a "warming shelter" with a spectacular river
valley outlook, a playground featuring a huge 40' enclosed tube
slide, wildlife-viewing blind, aesthetic footbridges spanning the
river, modern bathroom facilities, and a picnic area. The preserve
is located three miles south of Milford on Hwy. 71 and three miles
west on 240th St. For shelter rental call (712) 338-4786.
Point State Park
|This park on West Okoboji
Lake is a perfect place to spend a few hours or a few days! Hiking
trails are well-maintained, winding their way through Bur Oak forest
and marshes. Another attraction is the sandy beach with shade trees
near. Ample camping areas are designed to be more private than many
other campground layouts. Gull Point State Park is located within
the eastern part of Wahpeton; look for signs off Highway 86.
|Located 2 1/2 miles southwest
of Spirit Lake, Hwy 9. Swimming and fishing welcome, also try the
Open Picnic Shelter.
|This county gravel pit has
been converted into a fishing pond and picnic area. Small stands of
ancient cottonwoods show evidence of active beavers, along with
other aquatic plant and animal life. This pond once produced a state
record bass! To get there, go nine miles west of Milford on A34, one
mile south on M27, and one mile west on gravel.
County Recreational Trail
|The Spine Trail as otherwise
known reaches practically every natural habitat within Dickinson
county. Accessibility and easy two-way travel make this an excellent
choice for biking, hiking, roller-blading, or jogging. Proximity
to business area gives opportunities for enjoyment of our natural
resources as well as restaurants, shopping areas, and recreation-based
business. Trailhead parking areas are available at: Milford (13th
St. & P Ave.), Arnolds Park (1/4 Mile east of U.S. 71 on Emerald
Rd. and Lower Gar State Park), Okoboji (175th St. & 240th Ave.)
Spirit Lake (23rd St. & Lincoln Ave.). Facilities along the
trail include resting/viewing benches, information kiosk displays,
bathrooms, and picnic areas.
|Bordering the Big Spirit Lake
spillway and across from the Spirit Lake Fish Hatchery, this park
offers a long sand beach complete with an off-shore diving platform.
This area, located along Hwy. 327 (1/2 mile east of Hwy. 276
junction), also has a public boat ramp onto Big Spirit Lake.
|This recent addition is a
fine example of marsh and upland meadow habitat within the Swan
Lake watershed. This area currently has a parking area, but no facilities
of trails are yet available. Superior Marsh is located 2 1/2 miles
north of Hwy. 71 on N-22 (west of Superior)
|Another recent addition, this
136-acre wildlife area is a wonderful destination for an
enlightening and enjoyable nature hike. Located along the Little
Sioux River, this area includes large open meadows, a winding prairie
stream, and a softwood forest along the water's edge. Prairie birds
such as Bobolonks, Dickcissels, and Grasshopper Sparrows are
numerous, along with many other species of wildlife. This area is
located one mile west of Highway 71 on 240th St. (south of Milford),
one mile south on 210th Ave., and one mile west on 250th St..
Haffner Kettlehole Preserve
|This unique natural feature,
managed be The Nature Conservancy, must be seen to be appreciated.
As you arrive, all that's visible is a long stretch of meadow. A
walk along a trail brings you to the lip of the largest "kettlehole"
in Iowa, and one of the largest in the nation! Kettleholes are
formed when a chunk of a receding glacier (ours being about 12,500
years ago) breaks off and melts slowly in place. The result is a
steep-sided bowl-shaped depression with a pond due to snow and rain
accumulation (no water outlet or inlet). To the west is a
breath-taking view of the Little Sioux River valley. The Nature
Conservancy and Iowa Lakeside Lab. have studied the area
extensively, identifying 326 plant species! The preserve is located
of 210th Street, two miles west of Hwy. 86 (turn at Shuck's Bait
Grein Memorial Audubon Sanctuary
|Webster's Dictionary defines
a sanctuary as: "a place of refuge or protection." This
definition is appropriate for this natural area located within the
city of Spirit Lake. The small park is dedicated to nature
appreciation with winding footpaths passing through many types of
wildflower and brush/tree plantings. You need not plan a big trip to
"get away from it all", and this sanctuary proves it. It's
located on Denver street; on the east side of the 2400 block, in
Forks Wildlife Area
|I hesitate in exposing this
area since it's one of my favorite places to escape. This area,
centered around the junction of Dugout Creek and the Little Sioux
River, is a great place to explore nature and observe wildlife.
There are no established trails; you need to "bushwhack"
your own through the hilly terrain. It's located one mile South of
Hwy. 9 on 170th Ave. (M-38).
|Known first as one of the
sites of the 1857 "Spirit Lake Massacre" and later as one
of Iowa's first tourist attractions, the Gardner Cabin survives as a
reminder of one of Iowa's tragic Frontier events. Here you can learn
the dramatic stories of Abbie Gardner and the Dakota leader,
Inkpadutah. The State Historical Society of Iowa owns and preserves
the Gardner Cabin and Museum. The cabin is listed on the National
Register of Historic Places. Located on Monument Drive, one block
west of Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park