Osborne Welcome Center and Osborne Park

The Osborne Park is located 5 miles south of Elkader on Highway 13 and features a Native Wildlife Exhibit, walking trails, open shelters, Nature and Welcome Center, gift shop.





Shelter – Reservations

All shelters are day use only.

In county Youth Groups are not charged a fee.

Alcohol use guarantee deposit = $100.00 ( must be paid by a separate check) This deposit will be refunded providing no problems result due to the presence of alcohol.

Appropriate fees must be received in the Conservation Office prior to the date of the event, and during normal business hours: 8am-4pm Mon-Fri.

Receipts for Shelter must be in possession of the “responsible person” during the event and made available to the Park Ranger upon request.

For reservations call Clayton County Conservation at 563-245-1516.

Fireplace – Osborne Pond is $25.00 and it contains 8 picnic tables, pit toilets, drinking water and 6 electric outlets. 






Dock -The Pond is $15.00 and contains six picnic tables, pit toilets, drinking water and two electrical outlets







Pinewood – Near the Deer pen, $15.00 and contains six tables, nearby pit toilets, drinking water and one electrical outlet.






Woodpecker – The Pioneer Village is $15.00 and contains six tables, pit toilets, drinking water and two electrical outlets.  






Turkey River Park – Located at 20195 Strawberry Pt Rd, Elkader; this shelter has a light, 8 picnic tables, three electrical outlets, pit toilet, boat access area, along the Turkey River, lots of parking and is available to be reserved for $15.00.

Pioneer Village


  Historical Accounts of Osborne

Many people ask the history of Osborne… when it was started, where it is headed and so on.  The name of the center comes from the gentleman that first occupied this site in 1865 and named it after himself- Thomas Osborne.  In 1878 Mr. Osborne began selling plots of land in order to form the town of Osborne.  By 1880 Osborne had grown to include 50 full-time residents, a 2 ½ story hotel, blacksmith shop, general store, grain elevator and railroad depot.

However, due to low food prices the town began to fade until the town quickly shrank to less than 10 people.  Today there is still one person and two dogs who boast that they live in the town of Osborne.

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Osborne and the Clayton County Conservation Board

In the fall of 1960, the Clayton County Conservation Board purchased 60 acres of the original Osborne homestead and established it as a county park.  The Conservation Board’s vision was to create a forest where students could learn in the great outdoors.  In the spring of 1961, a variety of evergreen trees were planted, so that visitors could identify them.  Today that stand of trees is 55 years old and continues to teach youngsters the importance of trees in Iowa.

This vision of “a place where students can learn” has been the guiding force for the development of the Osborne Center.  In 1971 the Conservation Board purchased an additional 155 acres of land from Ben Casey.  The land, located north across the Volga River, is used for archery, hiking, skiing, sledding, and birding.  The first conservation board nature center was built in 1971.  At that time the center hosted around 250 students a year.  Today, two full-time naturalists serve nearly 15,000 students each year.

In September 1987, the Clayton County Conservation Board received a $150,000 grant to create a Visitor Welcome Center from the Iowa Department of Economic Development. The Conservation Board had to match this grant with money donated from thousands of people!  Evidence of this support can still be seen today inside the Osborne Center in the form of a money tree. Stop by the Welcome Center to learn more about travel opportunities in Iowa, visit with a certified Iowa Travel Counselor and pick up brochures and maps. While there, check out the Iowa Room Gift Shop. Come visit with us and see what great and unusual products are available right here at Osborne!