Signs and displays at Nachusa's Visitor Center.
Nachusa Grasslands The visitor center provides an opportunity to learn more about Nachusa's habitats. © Dee Hudson.

Stories in Illinois

Nachusa Grasslands Visitor Center

This gathering space provides an opportunity to learn about prairie habitat.

The new visitor center, which is located at 2075 S Lowden Road in Franklin Grove, will help visitors of all ages explore and enjoy the incredible habitats at Nachusa Grasslands. When you arrive at the Center, follow a gentle slope to a pavilion featuring exhibits that tell the story of Nachusa. From there, you can hike around the Center, or drive to one of five trailheads and explore. Except for the bison units, the prairie, wetlands, and woods are open to the public every day from dawn until dusk. Trailhead signs are posted at the main trails. You are also encouraged to hike off trail and explore the prairie on your own. 

For your comfort, the center features a hand pump with potable water and boulders to climb or sit on to enjoy a view of the prairie. A total of 14 new parking spaces will make it easier for visitors to leave their cars and explore the prairie. Also, two self-composting restrooms will be available for your use. Because they don’t rely on water or electricity, these facilities will have a low-carbon footprint. All of these features follow guidelines from the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Additionally, some features are designed to help the next generation engage with this special place. There is a new location for bus parking and turnaround, which will accommodate school buses and other tours. We are also placing a hand pump on top of the well head near the pavilion, which will supply cold, potable water for thirsty visitors, or a place where kids can cool off and get their feet wet!

The new Visitor Center at Nachusa Grasslands is the result of the collaboration and support of many. We are grateful to everyone who contributed to this project!

Directions to Nachusa Grasslands

From Chicago and points east:

  • Take I-88 West (East-West Tollway)
  • Exit at Route 251 North (Rochelle) to Route 38 West (To get on 38 West in Rochelle, you need to follow a few signs due to one-way streets.)
  • Travel through Ashton and into Franklin Grove (approx. 16.5 miles), go two blocks past Casey's gas station and turn right (north) at Daysville Road/1700E (sign: Franklin Creek State Park)
  • Travel 1.5 miles north to Naylor Road/1950 North, then turn left (west) and go 2.2 miles to Lowden Road/1500 East
  • Turn right (north) and go one mile to entrance on left.

From the south:

  • Take I-39 to Route 38 West
  • Then, follow previous directions. (Route 38 makes a few turns in Rochelle so follow signs.)

From the north (I-39):

  • Take I-39, and exit at Route 64
  • Go west towards Oregon, Illinois for 16 miles to Daysville Road/1700 East, which is just before Oregon
  • Go left (south) on Daysville for 2.5 miles to Lowden Road/1500 East (just past LaVigna Restaurant)
  • Turn right and continue southwards on Lowden Road for eight miles (you will pass Flagg and Stonebarn Roads) to entrance, on the west (right) side of the road.