Sunny · 68°

North Fork Wildlands

This special property is located along the North Fork of the Maquoketa River known as the longest stretch of river without a road crossing in the state—a total of 18 miles.

The approximately 72 acres of woodland are of mixed-age and species diversity, with a wide array of native hardwoods and important mast-producing trees.  In addition, over half a mile of the North Fork of the Maquoketa runs through the property.

The North Fork Wildlands is located near the southern border of Northeast Iowa’s karst topography region and therefore has many features associated with the karst, such as caves and rock formations. The land along the river is characterized by the steep limestone bluffs that are unique to the area. The high bluffs offer spectacular views of the North Fork River Valley, and as IDNR Wildlife Biologist Curt Kemmerer noted, “The aesthetic value of the area is overwhelming.” 

Indeed, the river’s scenic beauty—along with the remote nature of the passage—makes it a top wilderness-paddling destination. The property is a significant resource for those interested in bird watching, wildlife observation, and photography. It is, as Kemmerer described, “an area with something for everyone—outdoor enthusiasts as well as hunters and paddlers.”

Park Features

  • Paddling
  • Hunting
  • Bird watching
  • Wildlife observation/photography


In 2014, the Jones County Conservation Board (JCCB) was awarded a $198,000 REAP Grant to acquire the “North Fork Wildlands”, previously held by the estate of landowner Arnold Bruggeman.  

The Jones County Conservation Board worked closely with the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF) to make this acquisition a success.  Recognizing the high quality of the area, four local chapters of Whitetails Unlimited, (Wapsi Bottoms, Maquoketa River, Clinton, and Dubuque) in addition to the national chapter,  donated a total of $35,000 to the project. 

Maps & Rules

Park Hours

4:30am to 10:30pm


The only access to this wildlife area is from the Maquoketa River. It's located west of County Rd. D61 and East of Hwy 136 near Cascade.

Map · North Fork Wildlands