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Black River Savanna

No. 567


Photo by Josh Mayer


Black River Savanna supports a diverse sand prairie and barrens flora on the sandy, semi-open river terrace of the Black River. The flora is dominated by such representative plants as Junegrass, little bluestem, western sunflower, leadplant, lance-leaved loosestrife, bee balm, sky-blue aster, heath aster, goat's-rue, and American germander. Rare and uncommon species include prairie parsley and prairie larkspur. Scattered small to medium-sized black or Hill's oak is present along with a few bur oak and red cedar. Smooth sumac is common throughout the site.

This moderately-sized sand barrens remnant has good recovery potential with management practices that will help reduce woody species encroachment and increase light availability to the native understory plants. Bird life is diverse and includes a barred owl, willow flycatcher, alder flycatcher, sedge wren, veery, American redstart, ovenbird, mourning warbler, and clay-colored sparrow. Black River Savanna is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 2008.

Very few State Natural Areas have public facilities, but nearly all are open for a variety of recreational activities as indicated below. Generally, there are no picnic areas, restrooms, or other developments. Parking lots or designated parking areas are noted on individual SNA pages and maps. Trails, if present, are typically undesignated footpaths. If a developed trail is present, it will normally be noted on the SNA map under the Maps tab. A compass and topographic map or a GPS unit are useful tools for exploring larger, isolated SNAs.

The good majority of SNAs are isolated and have few or no facilities. Some SNAs have vehicle access lanes or parking lots, but their accessibility may vary depending on weather conditions. Parking lots and lanes are not plowed during winter. Hiking trails may be nonexistent or consist of undeveloped footpaths. A GPS unit or compass and a detailed topographic map are useful tools for exploring larger SNAs.

Entrance fees: Except for Parfrey's Glen, the Cambrian Outlook in the Dells of the Wisconsin River, SNAs within State Parks and some within State Forests, all other DNR-owned SNAs do not have any admission fees. For more information, see Wis. Admin. Code NR 45. For non-DNR-owned SNAs, we are unaware of any vehicle or admission fees. However, please contact the landowner for more information.

Allowable activities: DNR-owned land

The activities listed below are generally allowed on all DNR-owned SNA lands. Exceptions to this list of public uses, such as SNAs closed to hunting, are noted above and posted with signs on the property site.

  • Hiking
  • Fishing
  • Cross country skiing
  • Hunting
  • Trapping
  • Scientific research (permit required)
  • Outdoor education
  • Wild edibles (What is this?)
  • Pets (Rules)
  • Wildlife viewing

Prohibited activities: all SNAs

  • Camping and campfires
  • Collecting of animals (other than legally harvested species), non-edible fungi, rocks, minerals, fossils, archaeological artifacts, soil, downed wood, or any other natural material alive or dead.
  • Collecting for scientific research requires a permit issued by the DNR
  • Collecting of plants including seeds, roots or other non-edible parts of herbaceous plants such as wildflowers or grasses
  • Geocaching
  • Horseback riding
  • Rock climbing
  • Vehicles, including bicycles, ATVs, aircraft, and snowmobiles except on trails and roadways designated for their use.

For rules governing state-owned SNAs and other state lands, please consult Chapter NR 45 Wis. Admin. Code [exit DNR].


Within North Bend Bottoms Wildlife Area, Jackson County. T19-R6W, Sections 27, 34, 35. 566 acres.

Driving directions

The site is best reached by canoe. From the Highway 107 boat launch just south of Melrose, canoe downstream nearly 6 miles to the eastern edge of the site.

The DNR's state natural areas program is comprised of lands owned by the state, private conservation organizations, municipalities, other governmental agencies, educational institutions, and private individuals. While the majority of SNAs are open to the public, access may vary according to individual ownership policies. Public use restrictions may apply due to public safety, or to protect endangered or threatened species or unique natural features. Lands may be temporarily closed due to specific management activities.

Users are encouraged to contact the landowner for more specific details. The data shown on these maps have been obtained from various sources, and are of varying age, reliability, and resolution. The data may contain errors or omissions and should not be interpreted as a legal representation of legal ownership boundaries. To create your custom map where you can zoom to a specific location, please use the DNR's Mapping Application.


Property map [PDF]



Black River Savanna is owned by: Wisconsin DNR