Calkins Nature Area

Calkins Nature Center

Few areas of Hardin County Conservation feature such diverse habitat, cultural and wildlife diversity, like that found at Calkins Nature Area and Interpretative Center.  This 76 area parcel of land was donated to Ellsworth Community College Board of Trustees in 1981.  In 1993 Hardin County Conservation formed a partnership with college and Hardin County Conservation acquired management of the area.  This area’s name sake was received from Homer and Ruth Calkins.  Homer served as the Hardin County Conservation director for 18 years and rehabilitated animal most of his life.

Once the Calkins family homestead, now the nature area has three native habitats including woodlands, prairies, wetlands, and is bordered by the Iowa River. The nature area is home to over 30 different species of wildlife in the live animal display.  You will also find a natural history museum, with over 620 mounted specimens, an extensive display of Plains Native American artifacts, and an exhibit on Hardin County’s geological history including the Ice Age.

Also, at this recreational area, you can explore the Iowa River Green Belt through  two miles of trail system, get an up close view of Monarch metamorphism in the Shirley Welden Butterfly House, and test your bird identification skills at the bird blind.  The newest attraction to the nature area is an Amphitheater that seats over 120 people, constructed primarily from plastic recycled lumber, and surrounded by native prairie plants.

At Calkins Nature Area we strive to accomplish Homer Calkins vision to provide Hardin County and the surrounding area with a beautiful educational outdoor classroom. 


Calkins Nature Area is located between Iowa Falls and Alden on the Iowa River.  Directions:  Highway 20 to IA 65/US 65 (Exit 168); West onto Washington; South onto Georgetown Road; West onto 135th Street.

Operating Hours & Seasons

Calkins Nature Area is open for visitation:

Monday-Friday 8a-4p (Temporary Summer Hours)