at Baxter's Hollow, Baraboo Hills, Wisconsin.
Otter Creek at Baxter's Hollow, Baraboo Hills, Wisconsin. © Steve S. Meyer

Places We Protect

The Baraboo Hills


The Baraboo Hills are all that remain of one of the most ancient rock outcrops in North America.


The Baraboo Hills of Sauk and Columbia counties are all that remain of one of the most ancient rock outcrops in North America. A forested sanctuary underlain by durable rock called Baraboo quartzite, the Hills are an ecologically unique part of the Midwest.

The oak, maple, and basswood forests of the Baraboo Hills constitute the largest block of upland forest still standing in southern Wisconsin. They provide habitat for more than 1,800 kinds of plants and animals.

Who We Are

The Nature Conservancy is a leading global conservation organization working around the world to protect the land and water on which all life depends.

The Nature Conservancy first came to the Baraboo Hills in the early 1960s at the request of local residents and university professors who knew how ecologically unique this area was and who wanted the Conservancy's help in protecting the area. We continue to work with partners to protect the exceptional diversity of animals and plant communities in the Baraboo Hills at places like Baxter’s Hollow and Hemlock Draw.

Our Conservation Goals

Protecting the large block of forest from scattered rural residential development (the Conservancy concentrates its efforts on the forest block west of Devil's Lake State Park).

  • Managing our preserves to support healthy populations of wildlife, in particular, songbirds that need to nest in large blocks of forest.
  • Providing information about the plants and animals of the Bluffs forest and compatible forest management to area residents and other interested parties.
  • Working with other organizations concerned with the health of the Bluffs forest.
  • Working to protect the forest block while balancing human needs and economic health in the region.

How We Accomplish Our Goals

Land acquisition from willing sellers and generous donors (the Conservancy pays fair market value; contact the Baraboo office for more information).

  • Conservation easements (voluntary legal agreements that compensate landowners who protect the conservation value of land by permanently limiting its future uses, while keeping it in private ownership).
  • Land/Forest management (research, removal of non-native plants; forest stand improvement).

The Conservancy's Role as a Responsible Community Member/Neighbor

The Conservancy has been working in the Baraboo Bluffs for more than 30 years and community concerns are important to us. The following is a list of some of the things we do to "give back" to the community:

  • We open our preserves to the public for low-impact, compatible recreation like hiking and bird watching.
  • We open most of our lands to deer hunting.
  • We preserve some of the most pristine and biologically unique areas for future generations to enjoy!

Conservancy Natural Areas in the Baraboo Hills

The Conservancy owns 9,283 acres at 10 preserves in the Hills, including:

The Conservancy has helped protect a total of 11,559 acres in the Hills. This figure includes lands owned and managed by the Conservancy, conservation easements, government co-ops and assists.

How You Can Get Involved

Join other volunteers one Saturday each month at a preserve in the Baraboo Hills. Activities include controlling invasive plant species, maintaining hiking trails, tree planting, seed collection, tree monitoring and working on fire breaks. Contact Sherren Clark (608/225-2974 or to be added to the Baraboo opportunities e-mail list.

Most Nature Conservancy preserves are open for hiking, bird-watching, nature study, photography and other low-impact recreating opportunities.

Baraboo Office Staff

Ann Calhoun, Baraboo Hills Project Coordinator
Caleb Klima, Baraboo Hills Land Steward

If you have any questions about The Nature Conservancy's Baraboo Hills project, please call us at (608) 356-5300 or stop by our office at 124 Second Street, Room 33, Baraboo, Wisconsin.