Nature Preserves

Together with you, we protect rare plant communities, threatened wildlife species, top-notch cold-water trout streams, archeological resources, scenic beauty, and land for sustainable agriculture – many of the best features of the southwestern Wisconsin landscape. Our nature preserves provide opportunities for people to get outdoors, connect with nature and develop healthy habits of good exercise. Please review the safety and trail condition notices below.

Your support is needed to help ensure the nature preserves will be healthy and beautiful for today and forever.. Please consider a donation or become a member of our community-supported organization today.

 

Descriptions and maps for the individual nature preserves are further down on this page. 

The trail maps list activities allowed/not allowed on each nature preserve. Please review those when planning your visit.

 

Indigenous Land Acknowledgment 

Mississippi Valley Conservancy acknowledges that we conserve land which is the ancestral and traditional home of several Indigenous peoples, including Ochethi Sakowin, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Myaamia, Kikaapoi, Wahpeton, Sauk, and Meskwaki. The Conservancy recognizes that Indigenous peoples were forced to leave this region, primarily by settlers of European heritage. 

It is part of our mission to conserve land for the health and well-being of current and future generations of all people and all the life we share it with. To accomplish this, the Conservancy will recognize and respect the full history of land stewardship within Wisconsin’s Driftless Area and will endeavor to protect our common home in a collaborative, inclusive, and equitable way.

Public access

We encourage public use, and we ask that our recreational use policy be followed as well as all state laws, local ordinances and our hunting guidelines. The downloadable Trail Guides for most of the properties below also contain details regarding activities allowed/now allowed on specific properties. When visiting protected lands, please be careful to avoid trespassing onto the lands of neighboring property owners. 

 

Stay aware of hunting dates! 

We advise you to wear bright colors and be aware of the possible presence of hunters when visiting the nature preserves, as hunting is allowed on most of them (subject to state and local ordinances). Turkey hunting happens in April and May (see link below for specific dates).
Click to see the Wisconsin DNR's 2022 hunting season dates.

 

Trail condition awareness

Please be aware that hiking on muddy trails causes permanent damage to sensitive habitats. If you come upon a muddy trail, go back – don’t go around. Going around muddy spots makes trail conditions grow worse.

Trails are currently CLOSED at Boscobel Bluffs due to tornado damage.


Hiking responsibly during the COVID-19 Pandemic

#1 RULE: Always, always practice physical distancing and follow the guidelines of your local government or the federal Centers for Disease Control CDC, whichever are more restrictive. These guidelines provided by the American Hiking Society provide some important considerations for planning outdoor activities and visiting parks and preserves.

 

 

Buffalo County
Land Type
Nature Preserve
Protected
Stanley A. Ledebuhr, a retired Winona teacher, donated a 20-acre, Buffalo County bluff directly across the river from Winona to Mississippi Valley Conservancy in 2008.
La Crosse County
Land Type
Nature Preserve
Protected
Apple Valley Bluff consists of 26 acres of Mississippi River Blufflands east of the Mississippi River in the Township of Onalaska, east of County Road SN.
La Crosse County
Land Type
Nature Preserve
Protected
This 52-acre property, protected thanks to the generosity of Dean and Phyllis Dempsey and Albert L. Miller, is located in the Town of Campbell near the confluence of the Mississippi…
Grant County
Land Type
Find Nature’s Treasures
Nature Preserve
Protected
Trail Trek Challenge
Borah Creek Prairie includes 181 acres of scenic remnant prairie, a rare glimpse into the rolling grasslands that were prevalent throughout the area 200 years ago.
Grant County
Land Type
Nature Preserve
Protected
Boscobel Bluffs is a scenic 389-acre property in Grant County overlooking the City of Boscobel.
Crawford County
Land Type
Nature Preserve
The Cardinal Bluff nature preserve is 14 acres of scenic bluffland, located within the village limits of De Soto, WI in Crawford County.
Grant County
Land Type
Nature Preserve
Protected
This 244-acre bluffland farm had served as a nature retreat for the Roe family for over 50 years.
Grant County
Land Type
Nature Preserve
Protected
Devil’s Backbone State Natural Area includes 165 acres of diverse Mississippi River blufflands.
Vernon County
Land Type
Nature Preserve
Protected
Eagle Eye State Natural Area is a 70-acre tract of land within the Cade Archaeological District.
La Crosse County
Land Type
Nature Preserve
Protected
74 acres along Fish Creek near the town of Bangor was donated from the TOLD Development Corporation.
La Crosse County
Land Type
Find Nature’s Treasures
Nature Preserve
Protected
Trail Trek Challenge
The Greens Coulee nature preserve includes 82 acres protected by MVC within the City of Onalaska’s Greens Coulee Park.
La Crosse County
Land Type
Find Nature’s Treasures
Nature Preserve
Protected
Trail Trek Challenge
The Holland Sand Prairie sits atop an expansive Mississippi River Terrace, created about 12,000 years ago during the last ice-age, that stretches nearly 30 miles from south La Crosse to…
Crawford County
Land Type
Nature Preserve
Protected
The Kickapoo Bottoms Property is an 85-acre tract of land along the Kickapoo River and adjacent to the Crawford County Fairgrounds.
Crawford County
Land Type
Nature Preserve
Protected
There will be no tours of the cave in 2022, but we plan to offer tours in 2023. You can enjoy a video tour anytime at this link. Kickapoo Cavern’s…
La Crosse County
Land Type
Find Nature’s Treasures
Nature Preserve
Protected
Trail Trek Challenge
Mississippi Valley Conservancy and the City of La Crosse formed the La Crosse Bluffland Protection Program to provide scenic preservation and ensure that the beauty of the City’s landscape is…
La Crosse County
Land Type
Find Nature’s Treasures
Nature Preserve
Protected
Trail Trek Challenge
The La Crosse River Conservancy project is located in the La Crosse River valley east of Highway 16 and south of Interstate 90 along the La Crosse River State Trail.
Trempealeau County
Land Type
Nature Preserve
Protected
Trail Trek Challenge
Little Bluff is a 19-acre nature preserve in the heart of Trempealeau, Wisconsin, a Mississippi River town. The property is owned by the Mount Calvary Lutheran Church ELCA, maintained by…
La Crosse County
Land Type
Find Nature’s Treasures
Nature Preserve
Protected
Trail Trek Challenge
The 310-acre site in La Crosse County is significant in size to birds for maintaining viable nesting grounds.
Crawford County
Land Type
Nature Preserve
Protected
Plum Creek Conservation Area is a 1,611-acre parcel of rugged land located just north of Wauzeka in Crawford County. The property includes over five and a half miles of frontage…
Vernon County
Land Type
Find Nature’s Treasures
Nature Preserve
Protected
Trail Trek Challenge
Romance Woods includes 35 acres of scenic, diverse oak woodlands, rocky dolomite outcrops and an ephemeral stream.
Crawford County
Land Type
Find Nature’s Treasures
Nature Preserve
Protected
Trail Trek Challenge
On the banks of Sugar Creek near the Mississippi River in Crawford County, lies Sugar Creek Bluff, a 440-acre bluffland preserve.
Trempealeau County
Land Type
Nature Preserve
Protected
The property is located south of State Highway 35 and the Great River State Trail, and is accessible from Lake Road, Pickerel Road, and Bass Road.
Vernon County
Land Type
Find Nature’s Treasures
Nature Preserve
Protected
Trail Trek Challenge
Along the east branch of the Kickapoo River in Vernon County sit multiple spectacular Conservancy-protected properties, including Tunnelville Cliffs State Natural Area and the adjacent Kings Point Farm Tract.
Jackson County
Land Type
Nature Preserve
Protected
Water’s Edge Woods is MVC’s first nature preserve in Jackson County, the result of a donation from Gil and Jon Homstad and a partnership with the Friends of the Black…
Monroe County
Land Type
Nature Preserve
Protected
This 89.14-acre property is Mississippi Valley Conservancy’s first nature preserve in Monroe County. The site was protected for its nearly half-mile stretch of the meandering Kickapoo River, diverse sedge meadows…