Did you know that spending time in nature can significantly lower stress? Studies show that a daily “nature pill” of spending 20 minutes or more in nature can serve as an effective, low-cost treatment to improve mental health. And here in Cedar Rapids, you don’t have to go far to get your daily dose.
Not more than a 10 minute drive from downtown, you’ll find Indian Creek Nature Center — a beautiful nonprofit nature preserve home to one of the world’s most sustainable buildings, Amazing Space, as well as 500 acres of riparian forests, maple sugarbush, tallgrass prairies, and oak savannas in various stages of ecological restoration. With so much to explore, where do you begin? Here are some ideas:
Take a hike
Enjoy miles of trails through our woodlands, wetlands, and prairies. Trails are open year round from dawn until dusk. Find the current trail map and self-guided tours on their website. Looking for further guidance? Stop in and they’ll be happy to show you around.
Tour Amazing Space
The Nature Center’s headquarters is Living Building Challenge Petal Certified, making it one of the most sustainable in the world. Be amazed by numerous features demonstrating the best in sustainable design and architectural beauty. If you’re looking for a place to host a meeting or event, look no further — Amazing Space is the perfect setting for all types of events.
Explore educational exhibits
Learn all about our local environment through a variety of interactive exhibits. You can’t miss the Indian Creek Exhibit “flowing” through the center of the exhibit hall, where people of all ages and abilities can enjoy the magic & wonder beneath the surface of the Nature Center’s namesake, Indian Creek.
View wildlife indoors or out at the Nature Center. You never know what you may encounter out on the trails, but inside you’ll find painted turtles in the exhibit hall’s fountain, as well as a tiger salamander, milk snake, and box turtles down the hall. Or, get cozy in the bird room and watch through the floor-to-ceiling windows as a wide variety of birds and other critters enjoy a snack from the bird sanctuary’s feeders.
So long as there is 5 inches or more of snow on the ground, you can rent a pair of snowshoes from the Nature Center and go on a winter wonderland adventure.
Pack a picnic
Enjoy a meal on the Nature Center’s patio or lawn surrounded by beautiful scenery and serenaded by nature. Please pick up after yourself before you leave to ensure no litter is left behind.
Attend a program or special event
There’s always something going on at the Nature Center — from educational workshops, guided hikes, family programming, community events, or otherwise…the Nature Center has something for everyone. Check out their public program calendar on their website for year-round programming and events.
As Iowa’s largest and only nonprofit nature center, Indian Creek Nature Center relies on the support of people like you! Support environmental education, land protection and restoration by signing up to volunteer, become a member, or make a tax-deductible donation today.
Stay in touch
Follow ICNC on social media (@indiancreeknaturecenter on Facebook and Instagram, @nature_center on Twitter) and sign up for the e-newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest news.
“The health benefits of time spent outdoors are more important now than ever before — we all need nature, and nature needs us, too,” said Executive Director John Myers. “That’s why, we educate and inspire all people to be Champions of Nature. People who are passionate about nature and will work to protect it for future generations.”
Indian Creek Nature Center
5300 Otis Road SE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Article and Photos by Liz Zabel