Adventurers across the country are celebrating their local prairie habitats this weekend in honor of National Prairie Day! Founded by the Missouri Prairie Foundation in 2016, National Prairie Day is celebrated on the first Saturday of June to inspire appreciation for these amazing ecosystems. It’s only natural that we, residents of The Prairie State, join the celebration!
Here are four nearby prairies that local naturalists highly recommend visiting:
This Illinois State Nature Preserve and Rockford Park District site is beloved for its family-friendly playground, sportsground, and Canine Corners dog park. The paved Mel Anderson Rec Path swoops along the prairie, perfect for the whole family to enjoy!
Parking at: 4950 Safford Road, Rockford, IL
A sand prairie nestled along the Sugar River, this Winnebago County Forest Preserve displays acres of shooting stars and blue lupine in the spring along its meadow trails. In the summer, you’ll find hoary and fringed puccoon. These trails are a great place for anyone looking to feel immersed in nature.
Parking at: 10602 Haas Road, Durand, IL
Owned by Natural Land Institute, this preserve does not have groomed trails, leaving the striking landscape in nature’s loving hands. You can enjoy the sunrise or sunset over glorious hills, surrounded by plentiful wildflowers. We suggest wearing long pants and socks with appropriate footwear if you visit!
Parking at: 4979 Flora Drive, Loves Park, IL.
This forest preserve is home to woodlands, dolomite cliffs, and of course vast prairie. The orange and red trails lead along the prairie edge for stunning views. If you wish to walk through the tall prairie grasses, take the secret path starting at the flagpole, which leads to the Natural Resource Nursery.
Multiple parking lots at: 8786 Montague Road, Rockford, IL