Skip to main content

Gotham Jack Pine Barrens

No. 279


Photo by Thomas A. Meyer/DNR


Located on Wisconsin River sand terraces, Gotham Jack Pine Barrens contains the largest and best remaining black oak and Jack pine barrens in Richland County. Also present is a floodplain forest of young timber and a small, shallow oxbow lake of high water quality, sedge and grass-dominated wet meadow, dry sand prairie and open sand blows. The barrens is located on undulating terrain composed of very old sand blows and dunes and is recovering from past grazing. The tree canopy is quite closed and the understory remains nearly shrub-free with a ground layer dominated by sedges. Some areas are still moderately rich in native species including big and little blue-stem, Indian grass, prairie cord grass, green milkweed, silky aster, flax-leaved aster, prairie coreopsis, gray goldenrod, rough blazing-star, goat's-rue and bird's-foot violet. The floodplain forest is composed of silver maple, green ash, river birch, swamp white oak, and American elm. The unusual wet meadow is dominated by cord grass, blue-joint grass, rushes and sedges and contains no shrubs and is nearly devoid of forbs. The area contains numerous rare plants and animals. Gotham Jack Pine Barrens is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1994.

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. If a developed trail is present, it will normally be noted on the SNA map and/or 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 [exit DNR]. 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.

Prohibited activities: all SNAs

Although a handful of sites allow activities like primitive camping (e.g. Lower Chippewa River on sand bars) or horseback riding (e.g. S. Kettle Moraine), the activities listed below are generally prohibited on DNR-owned 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
  • Drones: Flying-related activities, including the use of drones, hang-gliders and model airplanes, are prohibited. Permission may be issued by the SNA Program for the use of drones for educational or research purposes
  • 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 the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway, Richland County. T8N-R2E, Sections 4, 5. T9-R2E, Section 32. 412 acres.

Driving directions

From the intersection of U.S. Highway 14 and County JJ in Gotham, go east on 14 for 2.5 miles, then south on Moore Road for 0.3 miles to a cul-de-sac and DNR gate. Once inside the gate, walk west on a two-track about 0.6 miles into the site. Alternatively, from the intersection of U.S. Highway 14 and County JJ in Gotham, go east on 14 0.2 miles, then south on Timber Lane to the bike trail and a gate. Park and walk due south along an overgrown access easement to the northwest corner of the western tract. The site is also accessible by boat from the Wisconsin River.

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]

Gotham Jack Pine Barrens is owned by: Wisconsin DNR