ALERT: Full hookup sites now available at Arrowhead Park, Botna Bend Park, and Hitchcock Nature Center for $30 per night.
ALERT: Closure of L-55 Bridge over I-80 (exit 23) to Arrowhead Park scheduled for July 1st. May be closed through early August.

Free Day at the Parks!


This page includes details on a past event. For a current list of upcoming Pottawattamie Conservation events, please visit our calendar.
Saturday, April 20, 2024
6:00am to 10:30pm Add to Calendar

All Pottawattamie Conservation Parks


All Ages

Please note that all other park fees, like camping, will remain in place.

Celebrate spring with Pottawattamie County Conservation by joining us for Free Day at the Parks on Saturday, April 20th. Bring your friends and family and enjoy all the beauty our county parks have to offer!

Have you been meaning to get out and enjoy the outdoors this year, but haven’t made time for it yet? Are you looking for a new spot to enjoy your favorite nature activities? Here’s your sign!

Pottawattamie County Conservation parks offer that “get away from it all” feeling we all crave and truly have something for everyone. Treat yourself to an adventure and soak up all of the benefits that the natural world provides.

Free park entry will be allowed at all Pottawattamie Conservation parks, which are listed below with additional details.


Arrowhead Park

  • Location: Neola, IA (~45 mins from Omaha/Council Bluffs metro)
  • Park Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
  • Features: 17-acre fishing lake, canoe rental (starting in May), playground, sand volleyball court, nature trails, tent and RV camping, modern and camping cabins, lodge rental
  • Fun Facts: Arrowhead is a great place to view Canada geese and participates in the Iowa DNR’s geese banding every year. The park also hosts an annual children’s fishing derby the first weekend in June, and regularly has trail-run events as well. Arrowhead trails are also equine-friendly, so feel free to giddy up!
  • Events: Join us for the park’s spring trail run event on April 20th and participate in a 5k run/walk, 10k, or endurance race through the park! Proceeds benefit the Pottawattamie County Trails Association.


Botna Bend Park

  • Location: Hancock, IA (~1 hour from Omaha/Council Bluffs metro)
  • Park Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
  • Features: Bison herd, elk herd, access to and views of the West Nishnabotna River Water Trail, nature trails, tent and RV camping, Rubber Duck Outfitters for river adventures, lodge rental, archery range, disc golf, sand volleyball court, playground
  • Fun Facts: Botna Bend offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience of seeing bison and elk herds roam as they once freely did before settlement. For the safety of our visitors and the animals, please stand 6 feet back from fencing and do not attempt to feed or touch the elk or bison (you may not realize it, but you are a predator!). The park also hosts an annual maple tree tapping event in the spring and then a pancake feed in the fall where visitors can taste the sweet syrup that is made by rangers in the park’s sugar shack!
  • Events: Make lifelong memories at a Botna Bend Summer summer camp, made possible by our friends at the East & West Pottawattamie Soil and Water Conservation District! Wild Ones (6/11-6/13) is for students entering 1st or 2nd grade, Wild Seekers (7/9-7/11) is for students entering 3rd or 4th grade, and Wild Wanderers (7/23-7/25) is for students entering 5th or 6th grade.


Hitchcock Nature Center

  • Location: Honey Creek, IA (~30 minutes from Omaha/Council Bluffs metro)
  • Park Hours: 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
  • Features: scenic views of the Loess Hills, the Loess Hills Lodge gallery and exhibit, nature trails, archery, tent and RV camping, camping cabins, playground, lodge rental, geo- and earthcaching, observation deck and tower, pond
  • Fun Facts: Tucked into the globally significant Loess Hills, Hitchcock Nature Center offers beautiful views of the rolling hills and Missouri River Flood Plain. Enjoy beautiful scenic hiking through the park’s 14-mile trail system and work up a sweat on the more difficult trails that feature inclines you might not expect in rural Iowa.
  • Volunteer: Join us for the park's annual Litter Busters Park Cleanup on Saturday, April 20th from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and follow in the footsteps of the infamous Dump Busters who banded together to prevent Hitchcock from becoming a dump in the late 1980s!
  • Events: Take part in Story Weaver and experience nature-focused storytelling on April 18th with Dustin Clayton or learn about the edible and medicinal uses of plants all around you during his Spring Medicinal & Edible Plant Walk on April 27th!


Mt. Crescent Ski Area

Mt. Crescent in the fall.

  • Location: Honey Creek, IA (~30 minutes from Omaha/Council Bluffs metro)
  • Park Hours: Mt. Crescent is open to the public during the winter ski season. It also offers a hiking trail, Crescent Ridge Trail, which connects to the 14-mile Hitchcock Nature Center trail system.
  • Features: scenic views of the Loess Hills, the Mt. Crescent Ski Lodge (accessible only during the winter ski season), ski, snowboard, and sled rentals, four-season nature trails, Crescent Ridge Cabin (reservable year-round online, sleeps up to 13).
  • Fun Facts: Mt. Crescent Ski Area has been a staple of the Crescent community since it opened its doors to the public in 1961. The area offers two ski lifts and nine runs. Pottawattamie County has been updating important infrastructure since it began operating the ski hill in December 2022, and most recently installed a new state-of-the-art snowmaking system more capable of operating in marginal temperatures. The Pottawattamie County Conservation Natural Areas Management team has been busy removing trees to restore the area's prairie ecosystem, leaving behind more open skiable areas for visitors.
  • Events: Join us for Litter Busters Park Cleanup on Saturday, April 20th from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and follow in the footsteps of the infamous Dump Busters who banded together to prevent this area of the Loess Hills from becoming a dump in the late-1980s! Save the date for the Perseids Shower Night Sky Event at Mt. Crescent coming up on August 10th. More details to come.


Narrows River Park

  • Location: Council Bluffs, IA (~10 minutes from Omaha/Council Bluffs metro)
  • Park Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
  • Features: views of the Missouri River, boat access, playground, shelter rentals, archery range, access to the Iowa Riverfront Trail, seasonal hiking trail, native garden
  • Fun Facts: With two reservable riverside shelters, Narrows is a beautiful and affordable option for outdoor gatherings including graduation parties, family reunions, and birthdays. Make sure to think of Narrows on those perfect boating days with its easy river access and beautiful downtown Omaha and Council Bluffs views. Narrows can also be a fun spot to watch planes take off and land with curious kiddos because of its close proximity to Eppley Airport.
  • Events: Learn the basics of archery at Family Learn Archery on Friday, May 31st. We provide the guidance and equipment, YOU provide the energy and enthusiasm!


Olde Town Park

  • Location: Macedonia, IA (~1 hour from Omaha/Council Bluffs metro)
  • Features: access to and views of the West Nishnabotna River Water Trail, playground, Rubber Duck Outfitters for river adventures, primitive camping
  • Fun Facts: Steeped in history this small park is located at the site of a rare limestone bottom river crossing where Mormon settlers would cross the West Nishnabotna River on their way west. Enjoy a feeling of being tucked away from the outside world while enjoying a picnic, river activities, camping, and play.
  • Camping: Welcome the beauty of spring by enjoying our new camping facilities with water and electricity access! There are eight paved first-come, first-served spots available for tents ($10) or RVs ($20). 

2024 programming is sponsored by the Pottawattamie Conservation Foundation.

The Pottawattamie Conservation does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or other legally protected status in its employment, programs or activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies: Human Resource Director 227 South 6th Street, Council Bluffs, IA 51501.

Map to Free Day at the Parks!

Get a full year of free access to all Pottawattamie County parks.

Become a member of the Pottawattamie Conservation Foundation