Calkins Nature Area

The Calkins Nature Area parcel of land was once the homestead of Homer and Ruth Calkins, who graciously donated their property to the Ellsworth Community College Board of Trustees in 1981. In 1993, Hardin County Conservation formed a partnership with the college, turning over management of the area to Hardin County Conservation.

Located between Iowa Falls and Alden, Calkins Nature Area has a nature center that greets visitors as they enter the 76-acre area of rolling hills, nestled up to the banks of the Iowa River. Calkins Nature Center is home to a Native American and Natural History Museum that explores the story of Hardin County's ecological and cultural past. In addition to the nature center and museum, the property also features; an amphitheater, 3 miles of hiking trails, an educational rain garden, Shirley's butterfly house, a full-sized Native American tipi, a wildlife exhibit, a bird observatory, a gazebo, a picnic area, and play-scape.

For more information on Calkins Nature Area and Nature Center visit: Hardin County Conservation's Website


  • Native American and Natural History Museum
  • Amphitheater - Available for Reservations
  • Shirley’s Butterfly House
  • Hiking Trails 
  • Cross-country ski trail and ski rental
  • Full-sized Plains Native American tipi
  • Gazebo and picnic area
  • Live wildlife exhibit
  • Wild bird observatory  
  • Restrooms
  • Stream fishing, Iowa River

Operating Hours & Seasons

Nature Center/Museum: Open Monday-Friday, 8a-4p

Nature Area: Open Daily, 5:00 AM - 10:30 PM


Closures of the Nature Center/Museum will be listed on Calkins Nature Area Facebook Page.