Nelson Paradise Wildlife Area

Nelson Paradise became a public wildlife area in 1989 when Ms. Helen Nelson donated forty (40) acres to the Mitchell County Conservation Board in memory of her parents.  At the dedication ceremony in September 1989 Ms. Nelson told the story behind the name.  Her father loved to travel but loved to return home.  After one particularly long journey by train to the World’s Fair in Seattle, Washington in 1909 and then back home via train through Nebraska to visit relatives, he stepped off the train just north of his home and declared, “This looks like Paradise”.   

Since 1989 additional lands have been purchased around the borders, and the original forty (40) acres have turned into one-hundred four (104) acres in size.   

The importance of the original donation has only increased over time as we continue to discover unique prairie plants such as purple fringed orchids and perhaps the largest known population of Baltimore checkerspot butterflies.   

Otter Creek, or locally called Poor Creek, flows through the center of the area.  Look for a small walk bridge just under the power lines as you cross the area and stream.

Nelson Paradise Wildlife Area is a 104 acre area located at 4845 Dancer Ave., St. Ansgar, IA 50472. Habitats include scattered timber, grassland and native prairie. Otter creek flows through the center of the area. Look for a small bridge on the east end for access to both sides. Off-road parking with walk-in access.


1 mile east of Otranto.


Public Hunting
  • Forest
  • Upland
  • Wetland
  • Grassland
  • Native prairie

Operating Hours & Seasons

Open Year Round - Access Sometimes Limited During Winter Months