Start receiving our award-winning magazine today!

Subscribe

Wisconsin

Waubesa Wetland Preserve

These spring-fed wetlands close to Madison are a good place to see waterfowl and migrating birds.


In Madison's Backyard, a "living museum" of native plant and animal communities

Why You Should Visit

This preserve is part of one of Wisconsin's most studied and valued water habitats.

The marshy terrain provides good habitat for many species of waterfowl and other migrating birds. The wetlands are fed by numerous small springs that provide a continuous flow of clear, cool water.  (One of the most impressive of these is Bogholt Deep Spring, which originates in an underground cave.) 

Location

Just a short drive (about 4 miles) south from Madison

Hours

Open year round, dawn to dusk

How to Get the Most from Your Visit

No established hiking trails exist; the best way to view the preserve is from a canoe. You can put in from the boat launch area at Goodland County Park (see Directions). The park does not offer canoe rentals.

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site

The Waubesa Wetlands Preserve contains high-quality, spring-fed wetlands. Close to Madison, it is used extensively for research and education.

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing Here

Since 1974, the Conservancy has protected 232 acres.

To protect the integrity of these wetlands, the Conservancy continues to work closely in a conservation partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Natural Areas Program. Volunteers are helping to restore the wetlands and surrounding woodlands by removing invasive species and conducting controlled burns.

What to See: Plants
  • Southern sedge meadow (a state-threatened community)
  • In the meadows: bluejoint grass and tussock sedge amid a scattering of sawgrass sedge, cattails and bur-reed
  • A fen community of brome grass, aster, goldenrod and sage willow
What to See: Animals

Though difficult to traverse for humans, the marshy terrain is an important nesting area for many species of waterfowl and other migrating birds, including the following:

  • American Bitterns
  • American Coots
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatchers
  • Canada Geese
  • Common Yellowthroats
  • Great Blue Herons

The waters of the preserve also provide a major fish spawning area, especially for northern pike (early to mid-spring).

Please see "Preserve Visitation Guidelines"

Directions

From Madison:

  • Travel south on US Hwy 14 approx. 0.5 mile to the County Highway MM (McCoy Road) exit. 
  • Take the County Highway MM exit.  When you get to the bottom of the exit, take a left onto MM and go under Hwy 14 to the stop sign.  Take a right at the stop sign onto McCoy Road.
  • Travel 1.25 miles to Goodland Park Road.
  • Turn left (east) onto Goodland Park Road; travel 0.5 mile to Larsen Road (T intersection).
  • Turn right (south) onto Larsen; travel 0.5 mile to Lalor Road. 
  • Turn right onto Lalor Road; travel 0.75 mile to preserve entrance on left (east) side of road.
  • Park in the small parking area just beyond entrance or along the side of the road.
  • To reach the preserve, walk east along the access lane for 0.25 mile.

Map to Waubesa Wetlands

Directions to Goodland County Park (Canoe Launch)

From Madison:

  • Travel south on US Hwy 14 approx. 0.5 mile to the County Highway MM (McCoy Road) exit.
  • Take the County Highway MM exit. When you get to the bottom of the exit, take a left onto MM and go under Hwy 14 to the stop sign. Take a right at the stop sign onto McCoy Road.
  • Travel 1.25 miles to Goodland Park Road.
  • Turn left (east) onto Goodland Park Road; follow the signs about 1.75 miles to Goodland County Park.
Discussion

Have you been to this preserve? Are you thinking of visiting? See what others are saying about their experiences and add your comments below.

Add Your Comments

Time for you to join the discussion. Tell us about your experience at this preserve. What plants and animals did you see? When did you go? You can help others plan their visit when you share your thoughts. And thank you for visiting one of our nature preserves!

comments powered by Disqus



Read our guidelines on posting comments




We’re Accountable

The Nature Conservancy makes careful use of your support.

More Ratings

x animal

Sign up for Nature eNews!

Sign Up for Nature e-News

Get our e-newsletter filled with eco-tips and info on the places you care about most.

Thank you for joining our online community!

We’ll be in touch soon with more Nature Conservancy news, updates and exciting stories.

Please leave this field empty

We respect your privacy. The Nature Conservancy will not sell, rent or exchange your e-mail address. Read our full privacy policy for more information. By submitting this form, you agree to the Nature.org terms of use.