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Hitchcock Nature Center: Fun in the Loess Hills

Hitchcock Nature Center is the go-to spot to explore the Loess Hills and enjoy outdoor recreation in Pottawattamie County. The park is known best for its excellent trail system and striking views. The park consists of over 1,000 acres and is home to some of the largest remaining prairie remnants in Iowa.


Hike, birdwatch, cross country ski, or snowshoe through the 10-mile trail system at Hitchcock Nature Center! The trails all network together, allowing visitors to be creative and enjoy a hike of any length they desire. Because of the Loess Hills' unique landform, the trails vary in difficulty ranging from easy flat ridgeline walks to challenging steep climbs. Explore the trail map to choose a route that fits your needs! Don't forget to bring your water and insect repellent during the summer.

Click here for the Hitchcock Nature Center Trail map.


Whether you like to camp like they did a hundred years ago, or you would prefer a more modern stay, there are options for you at Hitchcock Nature Center. The park offers seven different backcountry camping sites that are located deep within the park. These sites cost$7.50 per tent or hammock per night, and reservations must be completed beforehand online.

The park also has three cabins available that start at $50 a night. The cabins sleep up to five people and provide heating and air conditioning, electricity, refrigerator, microwave, table, and chairs. Outside of the cabins are a water hydrant, picnic table, fire ring, and grill. Restrooms are within walking distance of the three cabins. This is a great way to enjoy a getaway in the Loess Hills!

There are also 18 RV sites with 50 amp electric service and water hookups starting at $25 a night if you are an RV fanatic. A nearby shower house with a flushable toilet makes the stay even more comfortable, especially for the modern tent campers!

For more information and online reservations, visit Pottawattamie Conservation's website.


One of the park's most popular attractions is the HawkWatch Tower that is located next to the Loess Hills Lodge. This 45-foot tower stands on top of a 250-foot hill and gives you amazing views of the Missouri River Valley, and allows you to see birds and raptors from above. The park's central location in the Midwest puts it on the edge of territories for many eastern and western birds, so you can expect to see a great diversity in species. On top of that, Hitchcock is one of the top 25 HawkWatches in North America and one of the top five sites in North America for migrating bald eagles.

Loess Hills Lodge Interpretive Facility

Inside the Loess Hills Lodge, you will find the Loess Hills Lodge Interpretive Facility, a unique exhibit gallery with hands-on activities for children and adults to enjoy. Explore the Curiosity Cove, where you can make animal prints, create a habitat, read stories, and participate in a scavenger hunt! Learn more about raptors, prairie and woodland habitats, and more through hands-on learning.

For hours and more information, please visit Pottawattamie Conservation's website.  

Events & Programming

There are tons of educational programs for adults and children held at Hitchcock Nature Center throughout the year. The programs are designed to help individuals develop an appreciation and a better understanding of our local environment.

Admission to Hitchcock Nature Center costs $5 per vehicle, paid by exact change or check at the park entrance. Locals may find it more worthwhile to purchase a year-long membership for $20. Memberships may be purchased in person at the park or online.

For more ideas on things to do at Hitchcock Nature Center or for more information, visit the Pottawattamie County Conservation website and follow Hitchcock Nature Center on Facebook.

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