The Narrows Preserve

The Narrows Preserve

East Okoboji Shore

The Narrows Preserve includes 50 acres and more than 2,000 feet of undeveloped shoreline on East Okoboji Lake in Dickinson County. It is owned and managed by Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation to protect the wildlife habitat, water quality and scenic beauty of the shoreline. INHF allows low-impact public use of The Narrows Preserve including hiking and birdwatching. 

INHF purchased The Narrows Preserve in 2021 by raising more than $8 million in a few short months. Hundreds of individuals, area businesses, community groups and foundations pledged their support to protect one of the last stretches of privately-owned undeveloped shoreline on East Okoboji Lake. 

The Narrows Preserve will be protected in its natural state in perpetuity through a conservation easement held by Dickinson County Conservation. INHF will own, restore and steward the property's shoreline, prairie and oak savanna.

Stewardship and Restoration:

INHF is focused on returning The Narrows Preserve to its natural historical state, creating critical, contiguous habitat for grassland birds and other species using a thoughtful approach and informed strategies.

INHF is in the process of surveying the site for archaeological resources and artifacts, which will help to inform any work done there. But other restoration work has already begun. There may be times where the park is temporarily closed for safety reasons during this restoration process. INHF will post signage at The Narrows when there are closures. 

Visitors may also see management work at the Spring Run Wetlands Complex across the road from The Narrows Preserve. INHF and partners are using a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) to expand and diversify prairie on public lands with a specific focus on helping pollinators like monarchs. 

Restoration activities might include tree work, grassland and shoreline restoration, control of invasive species and other activities.  Reference the map below to see where these restoration activities may occur.  

Goals for the management and restoration work at The Narrows Preserve include:

  • Restore sensitive prairie and oak savanna ecosystem
  • Protect shoreline
  • Increase diversity
  • Establish contiguous habitat with adjacent Spring Run complex

Estimated timeline for restoration work:

Activity Timing
Prep for prairie planting Summer 2023 – Spring 2024
Restore natural grade (terrace removal) Summer – Fall 2023
Explore wetland feasibility Summer – Winter 2023
Tree removal (for shoreline, prairie and oak savanna restoration) October 2023 – March 2024
Shoreline restoration (spraying, erosion repair and planting) Fall 2023 – Winter 2024
Prairie planting Spring 2024

Map showing where different management work will be done at The Narrows Preserve

Public Use Guidelines

The Narrows Preserve is open for low-impact public use, such as hiking and birdwatching. You can access the Narrows from the paved trail on the north end of Elinor Bedell State Park. Portions of the preserve may be closed to the public while restoration work takes place, and INHF asks that you please adhere to any on-site signage. The Narrows Preserve is open from 4 a.m.-10:30 p.m. 

Please follow these guidelines while visiting the preserve:

  • Pack out any trash
  • Leave no trace
  • Respect wildlife
  • Stay on mowed trails
  • Keep pets on leash

The following activities are not allowed at The Narrows Preserve:

  • Hunting or trapping
  • Fireworks
  • Camping
  • Motorized vehicles
  • Bicycles
  • Dumping