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Young Prairie

No. 132

132_youngprairie.jpegPhoto by Christina Isenring


Young Prairie features a large wet-mesic prairie containing rare plants and animals. It is among the best and largest prairie remnants of its type known in the region. A small stream and associated wetland vegetation are located in the northeast section of the tract. Surrounded by agricultural lands on the east, south, and west, and by old fields on the north, this low prairie is relatively flat except for several seasonally flooded, shallow depressions scattered throughout. More than 80 species of native plants have been found including such showy species as compass plant, prairie dock, blazing star, purple prairie clover, lead plant, shooting star, turks-cap lily, coneflower, sunflowers, goldenrods, and asters. Nesting birds include common yellowthroat, sedge wren, and swamp sparrow. Occasional visitors are sandhill cranes and short-eared owls. Young Prairie is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1977.

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 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.


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].


Jefferson and Walworth Counties. T4N-R16E, Section 5; T5N-R16E, Section 31, 32, 33. 806 acres.

Driving Directions

From the intersection of Highway 12 and County H in La Grange, go north on County H for 2.6 miles, then west on Bluff Road slightly less than 1 mi. to a gated access lane to the north just where the road turns south. Park along the road and walk north on the old farm lane into the site. Or from County H, head west on Bluff Road 0.7 miles, then north on Young Road 0.3 miles to a DNR parking area west of the road.

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]

Young Prairie is owned by: Wisconsin DNR