On your visit to Hitchcock, the Loess Hills Lodge interpretive facility is the perfect place to begin your exploration of this unique landform. Outside you will find an interpretive garden of native prairie plants, a patio area for picnicking and relaxing, and an observation desk that offers beautiful views of the park and the surrounding flora and fauna. Climb the 45 foot observation tower for a unique bird’s eye view of the Loess Hills and adjacent landforms.
Inside, experience a unique exhibit gallery featuring a variety of hands-on activities for visitors of all ages. Kids will love exploring the Curiosity Cove, where they can make animal prints, create their own habitat, read stories, and complete a scavenger hunt. Other features include a raptor exhibit with calls, a talon strength simulation, and information about Hitchcock’s award winning HawkWatch, as well as a prairie and woodland exhibit highlighting how the Loess Hills were formed and the communities they support today. Navigate our stewardship monitor to learn more about ecological restoration or take a virtual tour of the park and learn about its history.
"Best Nature Center in the state! I can't thank you enough for the wonderful nature center and staff."
-Iowa Association of Naturalists member
The Loess Hills Lodge is open
March – November
Tuesday – Saturday: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Sunday: 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
December – February
Friday and Saturday: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Sunday: 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Closed on Mondays, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day
Free Loess Hills Lodge admission with park entrance fee
To learn more about the Loess Hills Lodge, download the Hitchcock Nature Center and Loess Hills Lodge brochure here.
Loess Hills Lodge Green Renovations
The Loess Hills Lodge utilizes many sustainable LEED-green features and provide park visitors with the opportunity to witness these green building practices first hand. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system promotes a whole building approach to sustainability by recognizing the importance of the following five areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. All five of these areas were taken into account throughout the Loess Hills Lodge planning stages and renovation process.
Sustainable Site Development
During the initial stages of renovation, porous pavement products were installed outside the lodge and nearly all demolition materials were recycled. Grasspave, an innovative porous paving product was installed in the center’s main parking area and trailheads. The multi-layered structure of grasspave increases groundwater recharge, reduces pollutants in stormwater runoff, helps alleviate flooding and contamination to streams and reduces erosion rates in the fragile Loess Hills.
Restroom fixtures featuring water control sensors designed to run water only as long as needed are installed throughout the Lodge.
Various energy efficient products are installed throughout the Lodge, including: low-voltage and compact fluorescent light fixtures, high-velocity hand dryers, and replacement windows containing double glazed, low-E glass to reflect heat. An outdoor wood burning furnace was added and is expected to decrease propane consumption by 85%.
Healthier Indoor Environment
Adhesives and wall paint containing low Volatile Organic Compounds and indoor air quality green label modular carpet tiles are present throughout the building.
The use of recycled and reusable materials was a key component of the Loess Hills Lodge renovation process. The updated building features wall and floor tile made of 55-75% recycled post-consumer glass content, wood trim created from renewable local wood products and 100% recycled gypsum wallboard.