Columbus Prairie

Why You Should Visit
Columbus Prairie consists of high quality blackland prairie, savanna, and woodland and harbors several rare species of plants and animals. Beautiful wildflower displays can be seen from spring to fall.

Hempstead County

120 acres

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
Blackland prairies and woodlands are unique habitats. Originally, there were approximately 12 million acres of blackland prairie in the United States. Today, less than 5,000 high quality acres remain.

An assessment of the blackland region of southwest Arkansas completed in 2002 revealed six major sites with a concentration of native blackland prairie and woodland remnants. The largest, and therefore highest conservation priority, was the Columbus-Saratoga Site in Hemptead and Howard counties. The Nature Conservancy selected Columbus Prairie for acquisition because of this high priority status. Columbus Prairie is also important due to its close proximity to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's 4,885-acre Rick Evans Grandview Prairie Wildlife Management Area, the largest known area of blackland ecosystem in conservation ownership.

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing
Columbus Preserve is managed as a nature preserve for the rare animals and plants that live there. Management activities include prescribed burns, removal of invasive cedars, and continued inventory for additional rare blackland species.

Of particular interest is the eared false foxglove (Agalinis auriculata), one of Arkansas' rarest plants. In 1998, one eared false foxglove plant was recorded from Columbus Prairie.  More than 50 individuals were recorded there in the summer of 1999, following a fall prescribed burn.

What to See: Plants
More than 150 prairie and woodland plant species have been recorded at Columbus Prairie. The site is a sea of flowers including yellow coneflower (Ratibida pinnata), prairie clovers (Dalea spp.), compass plant (Silphium laciniatum), blazing stars (Liatris spp.), prairie rose gentian (Sabatia campestris), ladies tresses orchid (Spiranthes cernua) and many others species.

The blackland savannas and woodlands are dominated by chinquapin oak (Quercus muhlenbergii) and cedar elm (Ulmus crassifolia) in drier areas, and Shumard's oak (Quercus shumardii) and nutmeg hickory (Carya myrsticiformis) in wetter locations.

List of plants at Columbus Prairie

What to See: Animals
152 bird species have been identified at Columbus Prairie, as well as 68 varieties of butterfly. Coyotes (Canis latrans frustror), red foxes (Vulpes vulpes fulva) and racoons (Procyon lotor hirtis) are among some of the mammals one might glimpse here.

List of animals at Columbus Prairie


There are no marked trails. The terrain ranges from nearly level to moderately steep slopes.

Sturdy walking shoes, insect repellant and sunscreen are recommended. Carry plenty of drinking water.

  • From Hope, take Highway 278 north
  • Turn left (west) on Highway 73 and proceed 13 miles to Columbus
  • Turn right (north) just before the white church on County Road 35 and go approximately one mile until you see the Columbus Prairie sign on the left.

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

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