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Starr's Cave Nature Center

Other Link Starr's Cave Park and Preserve


  1. Cross Country Skiing
  2. Hiking Trails
  3. Picnicking
In addition to serving as headquarters for Des Moines County Conservation's award-winning Environmental Education Program, Starr's Cave Nature Center offers many other amenities.

For meetings, classes, reunions, wedding receptions or other gatherings, the nature center can be rented, as can the picnic shelter near the creek.

To reserve any of Starr's Cave Nature Center's facilities, contact the Nature Center Staff.

Starr's Cave Nature Center

11627 Starr's Cave Rd.
Burlington, IA 52601

Ph: (319) 753-5808

Directions to the Nature Center

From Burlington take Hwy 61 N, at Sunnyside Ave turn east, turn north onto Irish Ridge Rd, after approximately a 1/4 mile, turn west onto Starr’s Cave Park Rd, follow road and arrive at Starr’s Cave Nature Center parking lot.

Summer Hours*
April 1 – September 30
Monday – Friday: 8 am – 4:30 pm
Saturday: 9 am 4 pm

Winter Hours*
October 1 – March 31
Monday – Friday: 8 am – 4:30 pm
The nature center is also open on Saturdays from 10 am – 4 pm in the winter to rent out country skis if there is 4" or more of adequate snow on the ground.

The nature center may not always be open during these hours as staff is regularly out teaching environmental education in the schools and our parks. We always suggest calling before your visit to make sure the nature center will be open.

About the Nature Center
Starr’s Cave Nature Center is a building bearing a striking resemblance to a barn. That is because the original use of the nature center was as a barn. Estimated to have been built around the 1910-1920s, the barn belonged to William Starr (from whom the park is named after). Starr was a German immigrant who homesteaded the land of present day Starr’s Cave Park and Preserve around the 1860s. The Starr family lived in the limestone house which still stands today next to the nature center. Along with horses, cows, and other livestock, the Starr's ran a winery. The hilltops now shaded by trees were once covered in grapevines.

In the early 1970s, the barn was renovated and made into a bar and restaurant named the Sycamore Inn. Present Starr’s Cave Nature Center staff often hear visitor accounts of the good old times that were had at the Sycamore Inn. Later, in the late 1970s, the barn and 184 acres of land surrounding it, was purchased by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR). It was at this time the land was designated a Park and Preserve and made open to the public. Although Starr's Cave Nature Center is owned by the DNR, up to present day it has been managed by DMCC since the DNR purchased the land. Presently, Starr’s Cave Nature Center is the hub of DMCC’s environmental education program as well as home to a folk music concert series that has been going strong for 28-some years.