Abbie Gardner Cabin
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
Kettleson Hogsback Wildlife Area
Located about 12 miles southwest of Arnolds Park, 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.
Caylor 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 prairie.
Habitats within this park include oak savanna forest, medows, 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" extention 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.
Horseshoe 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 and 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 aspectacular 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 perserve is located three miles south of milford on Hwy. 71 and three miles west on 240th st. For shelter rental call (712) 338-4786.
Gull 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. Smimming 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.
Dickinson County Recreational Trail
The Spine Trail as otherwise known reaches practically everynatural habitat within Dickinson county.Accessibility and easy two-way travel make this an excellent choice for biking, hiking, roller-blading, or jogging. Proximity to businessareas gives opportunities for enjoyment of our natural heritageas 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 fin example of marsh and upland medow 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)
Judd Wildlife Area
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 medows, 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.
Freda 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 streach of medow. 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 deppression 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 and Tackle.)
The Tom 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 Spirit Lake.
Twin Forks Wildlife Area
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).