Natural Areas

Bird Preserve

5601 Ellis Blvd, Cedar Rapids Iowa

The Rae Jeanne Kilberger Foundation donated 83 acres southeast of Covington and funding assistance for an additional 57 acres of woodland along the Cedar River near Ellis Boulevard NW in 2023. This natural area is named after the donor’s family, which includes committed funding to develop this property into a wildlife natural area. The property will be open to hiking and exploring, and archery-only deer hunting during the appropriate seasons. Although not designated as a park, new features to be added include a restroom, open-air shelter, and benches.

Blue Creek Natural Area

4823 Blue Creek Road Center Point, Iowa

Acquired in 2006 as a gift from the Robert L. Laker Estate, this 70-acre natural area was formerly known as "Laker's Acres." The area is managed for wildlife and forestry. The hunting of deer is prohibited on this property at the donor's request. It is a sanctuary for deer seeking refuge during all deer hunting seasons. During shotgun deer seasons public use of the property is prohibited. This natural area is open to all other hunting during appropriate seasons.

Buffalo Creek Natural Area

1825 Coggon Road Coggon, Iowa

This 75 acre parcel was purchased by the Linn County Conservation Board in 2015 from the Barb Appleby estate. Financing for the purchase came from Linn County Conservation reserve funds and Iowa Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Habitat Stamp funds. This acquisition creates a new, separate wildlife management area open to hunting in the Linn County Conservation system. The property has frontage on Buffalo Creek and therefore offers additional wildlife benefits due to the stream as well as the proximity to the creek. Linn County Conservation's Natural Resources unit is first planting prairie in an area that previously had been row crops.

Chain Lakes Natural Area

4247 Chain Bridge Road, Palo, Iowa

A dominant feature of this 403-acre natural area is the Chain Lakes Bridge, built in 1884 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This area is part of the Cedar River Greenbelt and is divided by the Cedar River. The area consists of six separate units, the largest of which is an island. The area is managed for wildlife and is open to hunting during season. Two of the area units are accessible from Blair's Ferry Road, one of which is planted to prairie grasses and sunflowers. There is a 400+ acre property managed by the Iowa DNR adjacent to the southern boundary.

Goose Pond Natural Area

3875 Lewis Bottoms Road, Shellsburg, Iowa

This 269-acre area was acquired in 1993 with contributions from REAP, Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, Wetlands for Iowa, the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and the Iowa DNR's Habitat Stamp Project. The area is managed for wildlife and is open for hunting during season. It is particularly popular with duck hunters.

Harold and Ruth Rehrauer Natural Area

1299 Red Bridge Road, Central City, IA 

This 80 acre natural area in NE Linn County is open for hunting and trapping during season. The Buffalo Creek runs through the natural area. There is also a mowed hiking trail for people to enjoy. 

Linn Learning Farm

Acquisition of the 282-acre property three miles northwest of Palo (west at corner of Hallenbeck Rd and Power Plant Road) was accomplished in early 2019. A historic 70-acre prairie pothole partially lies within this property and was drained in the 1930’s for agriculture. The result was farmable wetland that remains a frequently flooded basin with remnant native wetland plant and animal species. Restoring and protecting this unique wetland will have significant water quality and wildlife benefits due to the size and location of this property. Future goals include demonstrating how conservation and farming can be integrated using best management practices. Hunting and trapping is allowed during the appropriate seasons.

Lisbon Wildlife Area

The Iowa Department of Transportation created a 92-acre woodland mitigation site in southeast Linn County and northwest Cedar County as a result of the four-lane U.S. Highway 30 construction project. This property was transferred to Linn County Conservation in 2023. The area is located on both sides of the four-lane highway west of Lisbon Boulevard. 

Matsell Bridge Natural Area

3745 Matsell Park Road, Central City, 52214 

Rich in history, the Matsell Bridge Natural Area is the largest Linn County area at 1,990 acres. Diverse in terrain and habitat, Matsell Bridge is home to many species of native Iowa wildlife and plants. The area contains numerous "one-of-a-kind" facilities within the Linn County Park system: shooting ranges, primitive year-round cabin, equestrian camping and unique historical features.

Matsell Bridge Natural Area Brochure (PDF)

North Cedar Natural Area

3410 Cedar Heights Trail, Center Point, IA 

This 56-acre natural area was acquired in the early 1990's as a river access. Because of its proximity to a residential neighborhood, it is managed as a wildlife refuge - hunting and trapping are not allowed.

Otter Creek Natural Area

7500 Elf Lane, Cedar Rapids, IA 52411 

The Otter Creek Natural Area was donated to the Linn County Conservation Board in November 2009 by Kesler's Otter Creek Farm. This 37-acre natural area is managed for wildlife and is open for bow hunting only during season.

Palo Marsh Natural Area

2935 Palo Marsh Road, Palo IA

This 144-acre natural area bordering the Cedar River is part of the Cedar River Greenbelt. It is managed for wildlife and open for hunting season.

Paris Bridge Natural Area

5301 Sutton Road, Central City, IA 

Paris Bridge Natural Area is a refuge with canoe access to the Wapsipinicon River with limited parking. From this point, it is a leisurely float downstream to Pinicon Ridge Park . This refuge is also the drop point for the 2-hour canoe trip shuttle from Pinicon Ridge Park. The canoe access is near the historic 1876 Paris Bridge.

South Cedar Natural Area

48 Cedar Park Road, Mount Vernon, IA

This 162 acre natural area is located along the Cedar River southeast of Cedar Rapids. After the flood of 2008, the primitive camping site was permanently closed. A new public boat ramp with adjacent parking was repaired and reopened. This area is open for hunting during season.

Troy Mills River Access

3200 Coggon Road , Coggon, IA

This area provides watercraft/boat ramp access on the Wapsipinicon River in northern Linn County. This is also the drop off point for the 6 hour canoe trip shuttle from Pinicon Ridge Park.

Wakpicada Natural Area

Located just south of Central City adjacent to the Linn County Fairgrounds

This 352 acre natural area along the Wapsipinicon River was one of the first acquired by the Linn County Conservation Board as a wildlife management area. The area contains oxbow wetlands and several ponds that remain from the sand quarrying that took place with the four-lane construction of nearby IA Highway 13 in the 1970s. 

Primitive camping is available at Wakpicada. The campground features 8 primitive sites with fire rings. There is no electric or water service. There is not a shower house, but there are vault toilets. Wakpicada is open to equestrian camping and includes a trail.

Wickiup Hill Natural Area

3900 Wickiup Hill Road, Toddville, IA 

Acquired in the 1960's, this 751-acre area is a part of the Cedar River Greenbelt It is managed as two distinct areas - a wildlife refuge in the south (which includes the Wickiup Hill Learning Center) and a hunting area north.  The southern portion is recognized for its archeological and Native American history.