Places We Protect

Grand River Fen Preserve


Grand River Fen Preserve is home to the longest river in the state of Michigan, the Grand River.
Stream at Grand River Fen Preserve Grand River Fen Preserve is home to the longest river in the state of Michigan, the Grand River. © Jason Whalen

This fen is critical habitat for special insects and a globally-rare plant, the bog bluegrass.



Why Is This Preserve Significant?

Three separate areas of high-quality prairie fen are the heart of this site. These are renowned for the diversity of butterflies and moths, including four globally rare species. The wetlands occupy a glacial outwash channel that forms a portion of the headwaters of the Grand River.

The fens and associated swamp and upland forest communities harbor a regionally significant and diverse fauna and flora including seven globally rare and eight state-rare species.

One globally-rare plant, the bog bluegrass, is also found here, as well as a very high diversity of flowering plants, sedges, and grasses.

What Can I See?

See the start of Michigan's longest river as you walk through beautiful wooded wetlands.

Native butterflies occur in very high abundance at Grand River Fen. This site has long been known by lepidopterists for its diversity of these beautiful insects. Species like the Baltimore Checkerspot may follow you around, seeking the salt in your sweat.

Several species of the showy plant, Blazing Star, occur in the fen. With a narrow spike of bright purple flowers, they somewhat resemble the invasive plant, Purple Loosestrife, but these are all native.




Hiking, bird-watching, butterfly-watching


453 acres

Explore our work in this region

What you need to know

  • Plan for the weather! Hiking boots are recommended, as well as long clothing or natural insect repellent in the summer.
  • The Nature Conservancy allows hunting for white-tail deer on this preserve to reduce an unnaturally high deer population in the area and reduce threats too many deer pose to our conservation targets. All hunters are required to receive a permit from TNC as well as a Michigan deer hunting license. Additionally, hunters must report any deer taken from the preserve.
Grand River Fen Preserve See the start of Michigan’s longest river as it begins nestled in a protected area that provides habitat for fluttering butterflies and dazzling wildflowers.