BOYER CHUTE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
Three miles east of Fort Calhoun
More than five miles of walking and hiking trails. Fishing, wildlife observation, photography and regulated hunting permitted. During the spring and fall, Boyer Chute’s wetlands become a temporary home for a variety of waterfowl and shorebirds.
DESOTO NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
1434 316th Lane, Missouri Valley, Iowa (five miles west of Missouri Valley on U.S. Highway 30)
This 8,362-acre area includes a seven-mile-long lake surrounded by woods, wetlands and grasslands. Prime spot for observing migratory birds in fall and winter. Nature trails, biking routes, fishing, canoes and kayaks permitted, boating, regulated hunting, picnic facilities.
1111 Bellevue Blvd. North, Bellevue
National historic landmark featuring 2,000 acres of densely wooded hills, hollows and marshes and 26 miles of trails, including two barrier-free boardwalks with interpretive labels. A Raptor Woodland Refuge nurses injured birds of prey back to health.
GLACIER CREEK PRESERVE
14810 State St., Bennington
A 320-acre grassland education and research site. Restored tall grass prairie with a stream, woodland and wetland habitats sits on a land preserve given to the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1959.
HERON HAVEN WETLAND NATURE CENTER
11809 Old Maple Road
This wetland sanctuary within Omaha city limits boasts nature trails and a boardwalk; one of the last remaining oxbow wetlands of the Big Papillion Creek. No pets allowed. The Education Center hosts lectures and short courses on conservation, birding, photography and natural history.
HITCHCOCK NATURE CENTER
27792 Ski Hill Loop, Honey Creek, Iowa
This center has a 22-acre campsite, 45-foot lookout tower, 10 miles of hiking trails, playground, archery range, sled run and snowshoeing trail. Cabin rentals, RV parking and primitive camping. Nature trail accessible to wheelchairs and strollers. Loess Hills Lodge Exhibit Gallery features interactive exhibits, kids’ area. One of four hawk-watching sites in the world with more than 500 migrating bald eagles.
MOUNT VERNON GARDENS
6011 S. 13th St.
Features a scenic overlook of the Missouri River. Paths and roads for walking. Flower gardens and a white portico.
NEALE WOODS NATURE CENTER
14323 Edith Marie Ave.
Native prairie, deep woods and scenic overlooks on a 600-acre preserve 15 minutes north of downtown Omaha. Seven miles of marked trails open year-round. Operated by Fontenelle Forest Nature Association.
108th and Blondo Streets
The arboretum was created to demonstrate the relationship between trees and power lines. A trail system takes visitors past examples of tree and shrub species that can be planted adjacent to power lines, plantings that attract wildlife and plantings that provide erosion control and create windbreaks.
SCHILLING WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA
17614 Schilling Refuge Road, Plattsmouth
With 25 acres of water, it provides resting, feeding and limited breeding grounds for waterfowl. The area is open to fishing and hunting, subject to special area regulations. There are also picnicking, nature observation, wildlife photography and hiking opportunities.
T.L. DAVIS PRESERVE
End of Pine Ridge Road (southwest of 245th and Q Streets)
A 25-acre prairie and oak woodland donated to the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 2005 and named for Thomas L. Davis. Overlooks the Elkhorn River; numerous species typical of hilltop prairies and savanna.
WABASH TRACE NATURE TRAIL
Iowa West Foundation Trailhead Park, East South Omaha Bridge Road and Wabash Avenue
This 63-mile rails-to-trails conversion between Council Bluffs and Blanchard, Missouri, used to be part of the Wabash Railroad line. Passes through rural countryside and towns, runs along creeks and rivers and goes over bridges. Popular with cyclists who pedal the weekly Taco Ride to Mineola, Iowa, on Thursdays.