Located Southwest of Dubuque and adjacent to the Swiss Valley Park, this area is one of the largest nature preserves in the Midwest. The preserve features a visitor center containing interpretive displays concerning the wildlife, ecology, and natural history of the Swiss Valley area. The center also houses the administrative office of the Dubuque County Conservation Board. More than 10 miles of self-guiding nature and hiking trails radiate outward from the center through the forest, prairie, and wetland areas. The Catfish Creek, which meanders through the preserve, is stocked with trout by the Iowa DNR each year, providing many hours of fishing for anglers. (Click here for the Northeast Iowa Trout Stream Stocking Report ) In winter, many of the trails convert to groomed cross-country ski trails. The preserve and the interpretive center are open year round except for holidays. Preserve hours are sunrise to sunset. Center hours are 7:00 to 3:30 Monday through Friday and 9:00 to 5:00 on weekends. Special programs for groups can be arranged by calling (563) 556-6745. Seasonal weekend public hikes and educational programs are listed on our calendar of events and with the local media.
Located approximately 3.5 miles southeast of Dubuque on Olde Davenport Road near the intersection with Schueller Heights Road. This 78 acre parcel was donated to the Dubuque County Conservation Board in February of 1988 by the Interstate Power Company, who maintains a substation on the site. The area contains approximately 8 acres of restored prairie, 15 acres of gently rolling grassland, and the rest is made up of a heavily forested woodland dissected by deep ravines containing spring-fed streams. A 1.5 mile trail directs hikers through the area and is the only development planned for this natural area. A small lot at the site provides parking for the hikers. This area is open to the public sunrise to sunset year round. Contact: (563) 556-6745
Situated high atop a limestone ridge, overlooking the Little Maquoketa River just north of Dubuque on Highway 52 & 3, this 41 acre preserve features 32 ancient burial mounds. The preserve also harbors a mature forest containing numerous wildflowers and a small remnant of native blufftop prairie. Purchased by the Iowa DOT in 1980, and managed by the Dubuque County Conservation Board, this site is a classic example of a place to observe “stream piracy” and the route that took the Little Maquoketa River from its original bed. A trail up the 200-foot steep bluff continues at the top to circle around the Indian Mounds that are protected by fencing. The mounds range from 13 to 42 feet across and 6.5 to 50 feet high. Over 15 Native American tribes were consulted in the development of the site. Informational kiosks at the parking lot and blufftop explain the significant archaeological, geological, and natural resources found at the site. The area is open to the public sunrise to sunset year round. Contact: (563) 556-6745
Located adjacent to Highway 3 & 52 just south of Durango, the Pohlman Prairie Preserve is a unique 23 acre site consisting of native bottomland forest and native prairie remnants on the high bluffs overlooking the Little Maquoketa River valley. It was donated to the Conservation Board in 1998 by the Kolck family in memory of Henry Pohlman, the original owner. A small parking area exists adjacent to the highway, with a steep 1/2 mile switchback trail leading to the top of the limestone bluffs where the prairie remnants are located. This “goat prairie” is in bloom for much of the spring, summer, and fall starting with Pasque flowers in early April and ending in a blush of color from Cylindrical Blazing Stars and various asters in the Fall. The area is open to the public from sunrise to sunset year round. Contact: (563) 556-6745
Located 2.25 miles south of Worthington on the west side of Highway 136, Ringneck Ridge is a Dubuque County Conservation Board wildlife area open to PUBLIC HUNTING during state designated hunting seasons. In addition to hunting, the 160 acre area is also open to hikers and bird watchers. Some rare bird species call this area their home. The area was originally acquired by Dubuqueland Pheasants Forever through the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. To insure long-term maintenance and development, the Dubuque County Conservation Board was able to purchase the property in 2005 with the help of an Iowa Habitat Stamp Grant. Much of the work to restore the area’s prairies and trees was completed by the Pheasants Forever chapter. Currently, a project to restore the pond at the back of the property is underway; the goal is to improve its use by waterfowl and provide fishing access. Only foot traffic is allowed on the property. Motorized vehicles may only by taken down the lane to the parking area. For additional information call (563) 556-6745
Bridging the lines between Dubuque, Jackson and Jones counties, Whitewater Canyon Wildlife Area is one of the jewels in the Dubuque County Conservation Board system. This 419 acre area is open for public hunting during state designated hunting seasons. It is also a favorite with hikers, wildlife-watchers, and anglers dipping a line in Whitewater Creek. During periods of sufficient water, it is also floated by canoers and kayakers. Winter provides areas to snowshoe and cross-country ski. One of only three true canyons in the State of Iowa, the walls of Whitewater provide a lesson in the state’s geology taking one back 450 million years to a time when what is now Iowa was under the sea. Rare plants and animals are also sheltered in the various natural communities found on the property. This area was purchased from Cliff and Jennie Waller through the cooperation of the state and federal agencies, a REAP grant, Habitat Stamp funds, and donations from private citizens/wildlife groups. An additional 140 acre tract from Dick and Arlene Henneberry was purchased by Jones County Conservation Board and is referred to as Lost Canyon. An expanded parking area and interpretive signage is planned for the site which will otherwise remain in a natural state. Motorized vehicles may only be taken down the lane to the parking area. Whitewater and Lost Canyon are accessible from Highway 151 and Curoe Road, approximately 5 miles northeast of Cascade. For additional information call (563) 556-6745.