Evening Sky Prairie Walk
Join us for a free guided walk to discover the planets, stars, and galaxies of the autumn evening sky on the hilltop trail at the Tunnelville Cliffs nature preserve in Vernon County. This easy walk on a relatively flat trail will include observation of night life on the prairie and in the sky. The Evening Sky Prairie Walk is part of the Conservancy’s 2022 “Linked to the Land” series of outdoor learning experiences in Wisconsin’s Driftless Area.
This twilight walk will be led by Susan Cushing and John Heasley. Susan is a naturalist and artist who has lived much of her life in the Kickapoo Valley where she has observed and studied the local flora, fauna, and night skies for years. Susan has led numerous night hikes, participated in bat surveys, and has helped develop an astronomy program at the Kickapoo Valley Reserve, where she also serves on the board of directors. John is the founder of Driftless Stargazing, a popular online destination for fans of stargazing. He is also coordinator of the proposed Dark Sky Park which includes the Tunnelville Cliffs nature preserve.
Tunnelville Cliffs is a 1,118-acre nature preserve with public access on the Kickapoo River near La Farge. The site includes springs, creeks, over 9,000 feet of frontage on the river, forests, cliffs, prairie, sedge meadow, and open grasslands. The property is surrounded by additional protected lands, providing a vast wildlife refuge of 2,278 contiguous acres on the Kickapoo River. The nature preserve is also part of a proposed Dark Sky Park of the International Dark Skies Association, and an update on that project and information about the value of dark skies will be shared with participants at this walk.
For those who want to stay longer, a crescent moon will rise at 9:50 p.m.
WHAT TO BRING AND WEARBring curiosity and willingness to explore the quiet and dark of night, red flashlight (if you don’t have one, red film will be provided for use with your regular flashlight), binoculars (optional and some extras will be available), and insect repellent (optional). Long pants and closed-toed shoes are recommended. Masks and social distancing will be required. Feel free to bring a folding chair or a blanket to prevent neck strain and enjoy the heavens above.
ADVANCE REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED for this FREE event by October 12 at https://www.mississippivalleyconservancy.org/events. With limited parking space and an ongoing effort to maintain social distance, registration will be available on a first-come-first-served basis.
With questions, contact Sarah Bratnober at [email protected] or call 608-784-3606 ext. 8.