Where to see prairies

Although the majority of original prairies in Illinois have been destroyed, there are still a number of areas where people can see prairies. Some are former pioneer cemeteries that were laid out on the original prairie. Many of these are part of the system of Illinois nature preserves. Information on these can be obtained from the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission.

Some of the author’s favorite natural prairies are:

  • Anderson Prairie Park (Christian County)
  • Ayres Sand Prairie (Carroll County)
  • Belmont Prairie (DuPage County)
Belmont Prairie
Belmont Prairie


  • Bluff Springs Fen (Cook County)
  • Bonnie’s Prairie (Iroquois County)
Bonnies Prairie
Bonnie’s Prairie
Bonnies Prairie
Bonnie’s Prairie
  • Braidwood Dunes & Savanna (Will County)
Braidwood prairie
Braidwood Dunes and Savanna
  • Denby Prairie (Macoupin County)
Denby prairie
  • Desoto Prairie (Jackson County)
  • Foley Sand Prairie (Lee County)
  • Freeport Prairie (Stephenson County)
  • Fults Hill Prairie (Monroe County)
  • Gensburg-Markham Prairie (Cook County)
blazing star and goldenrod flowers in Gensburg Markham prairie
Blazing star and goldenrod flowers at the Gensburg-Markham prairie.
Gensburg Markham prairie in August
The Gensburg-Markham prairie in August.
Gensburg Markham prairie in July
The Gensburg-Markham prairie in July.
  • Goose Lake Prairie (Grundy County)
  • Hanover Bluff Hill Prairies (Jo Daviess County)
Hanover Bluff Nature Preserve
Hanover Bluff Nature Preserve in Jo Daviess County, Illinois. Note the hill prairies just below the tops of each of the three hills. Photo taken from the eastern edge of the Savanna Army Depot / Lost Mound Area by Kenneth R. Robertson, Illinois Natural History Survey
Hanover Bluff hill prairie
Northernmost hill prairie at Hanover Bluff.
Scott McKay hill prairie
Scott McKay stands at the top of the northernmost hill prairie at Hanover Bluff Nature Preserve.
  • Harlem Hills Prairie (Winnebago County)
  • Henry Alan Gleason (Mason County)
  • Hooper Branch Savanna (Iroquois County)
  • Illinois Beach State Park (Lake County)
Illinois Beach State Park.
  • The James Woodworth Prairie in Glenview, Illinois, is 5-acre remnant of a black soil tall-grass prairie owned and managed by The University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Lake-In-The-Hills Fen (McHenry County)
  • Loda Cemetery Prairie (Iroquois County)
yellow flowers in fall
The Loda prairie in fall.
Loda prairie.
Loda prairie
Loda prairie
man standing amid prairie vegetation
Long Run Seep
  • Manito Prairie (Tazewell County)
white and yellow prairie wildflowers
Manito Prairie.
  • Nachusa Grassland (Lee County)
Nachusa Prairie.
  • Prospect Cemetery Prairie (Ford County)
prairie wildflowers
Prospect Cemetery Prairie
prairie wildflowers
Prospect Cemetery Prairie
prairie wildflowers
Prospect Cemetery Prairie.
two people tending a prairie controlled burn
A controlled burn at Prospect Cemetery Prairie.
  • Revis Hill Prairie (Mason County)
  • Roberts Cemetery Savanna (Montgomery County)
Roberts Cemetery Savanna
  • Robinson Park Hill Prairies (Peoria County)
  • Sand Prairie-Scrub Oak (Mason County)
  • Searls Park Prairie (Winnebago County)
  • Shoefactory Road Prairie (Cook County)
Shoe Factory Road Prairie.
  • Site M or Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish & Wildlife Area (Cass County).
  • Thomson-Fulton Sand Prairie (Whiteside County)
  • Tomlinson Pioneer Cemetery Prairie (Champaign County)
prairie vegetation amid grave markers
Tomlinson Cemetery prairie
wildflowers amid grave markers
Tomlinson Cemetery Prairie
  • Twelve Mile Prairie (Effingham, Fayette, and Marion Cos.)
  • Wells Cemetery Prairie (Champaign County)
Wells Cemetery Prairie.
Wells Cemetery Prairie.
  • Weston Cemetery Prairie (McLean County)
Weston prairie in summer.
Weston Cemetery prairie
  • Wolf Road Prairie (Cook County)
Wolf Road Prairie.

Restorations and Reconstructions

Because of the rarity of natural prairies, a number of prairie restorations and reconstructions have been developed in Illinois. A few of these are given below:

  • Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe, Illinois
Mesic prairie and gravel prairie restorations at the Chicago Botanic Garden.
flower bed at Chicago Botanic Garden
Landscape prairie plantings at the Chicago Botanic Garden in early May, including shooting star (Dodecatheon meadia).
  • College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn (DuPage County)
prairie plants
Prairie plants at the College of DuPage.
  • FermiLab, Batavia (DuPage County)
  • Forest Glen County Conservation Area, Westville (Vermilion County)
Forest Glen County Conservation Area. 
  • Funks Grove, southwest of Bloomington (McLean County)
  • Goose Lake Prairie, Morris (Grundy County)
  • Meadowbrook Park, Urbana (Champaign County)
  • The Morton Arboretum Schulenberg Prairie, Lisle, Illinois (DuPage County)
man crouches amid short prairie plants
Prairie plants, including shooting stars (Dodecatheon meadia), at Morton Arboretum in the early in the spring, after the prairie has been burned.
prairie dropseed
Prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis) at Morton Arboretum in the late fall.
Morton Arboretum prairie landscape
Morton Arboretum in fall.
  • Peck Farm Park in Geneva, Illinois has an ongoing prairie restoration.
  • Rexroat Prairie, Virginia (Cass County)
  • Rock Springs Prairie, Decatur (Macon County)
  • Weldon Springs State Park (DeWitt County)