Matsell Bridge Natural Area

At 1,912 acres, the Matsell Bridge Natural Area is the largest Linn County area. Diverse in terrain and habitat, Matsell Bridge is home to many species of native Iowa wildlife and plants. The area contains numerous "one-of-a-kind" facilities within the Linn County Park system: a shooting range, primitive year-round cabin, equestrian camping and unique historical features.

Matsell Bridge is named after George W. Matsell, a New York City chief of police from 1845-1857. When he arrived, Matsell fell in love with the land and eventually built a mansion near the present day equestrian campground. Matsell fashioned his home after George Washington's Mount Vernon home that overlooks the Potomac River. Additional buildings were added to the farmstead until there were a total of 11 buildings including livestock barns, grain storage, a gate-keeper's house and an ice house. Over time, the buildings fell into disrepair and were razed. Only the ice house and stone pillars of the entrance gate remain today – reminding us of the grand old history of Matsell Bridge.

Camping

All campsites include a picnic table and ground campfire ring. All campers must self-register and pay the required Camping Fee

Equestrian camping: This campground at 3742 Matsell Park Road includes 11 campsites with hitching posts. No water and electricity is available. This campground is typically opened April 15 - November 15.

Primitive camping: Matsell Bridge Campgrounds in the 3700 block of Matsell Park Road provides 15 campsites including 2 pack-in or paddle-in areas. Mt Hope, along Stone City Road, provides 6 campsites. This area is available year round. No electricity or water is available in these campgrounds. 

Mount Hope, along Stone City Road, has 7 sites. No electricity or water is available in these campgrounds.

Water and Firewood: Potable water (April - October) and a self serve firewood box (year round) is available next to the maintenance shop at 3742 Matsell Park Road.

Red Oak Cabin is located on a bluff along the Wapispinicon River, offering a primitive "get away from it all" experience.  No water or electricity is available on site.  This cabin is available year round and is reservable online in advance.

Visit our camping page for more information about camping opportunities at Linn County Conservation

Equestrian Activities
Matsell Bridge equestrian trail rider


With an expansive equestrian campground and over 10 miles of equestrian trails, the historic Matsell Bridge Natural Area is a destination for equine enthusiasts. The campground features hitching posts and a lot of space - situated with direct access to the equestrian trails in the park.




Matsell Bridge Shooting Range
Matsell Bridge shooting range

A permit is required to use the shooting range.

Purchase a permit and view the range rules.