Ross Coastal Plain Marsh Preserve

The preserve contains one of the last large blocks of northern hardwood forest in southwest Michigan.

Open to the Public


Things To Do

This land is open for foot access and activities such as hiking, birdwatching and cross-country skiing. View All

Plan Your Visit

Van Buren County in the Lower Peninsula View All

Get Directions

Ancient sand dunes from the shores of postglacial Lake Nipissing created a mosaic of botanical communities on this 1,449-acre preserve, the most outstanding being three coastal plain marshes. These wet meadows occur in sandy basins along the shores of small lakes and ponds and harbor plants and animals ordinarily found in marshes along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. The diverse flora includes eight species that are either endangered or rare, including globe-fruited seedbox, meadow beauty, appressed bog clubmoss (Lycopodiella subappressa) and netted nut-rush. The preserve also contains wooded inland dunes, wetlands, small lakes and northern hardwood forests.

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
The generosity of H. Stewart Ross and his family made the first 1,254 acres of the preserve a reality in 1988. Part of the settlement of their family estate included this wonderful site. The family gave the Conservancy approximately half of the funds necessary to acquire the acreage and the Conservancy provided the rest.

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing
Four purchases from other landowners since then have resulted in the 1,449 acres protected here by the Conservancy. 


watch now

Experience the beauty of the changing seasons at this ecologically significant southwestern Michigan preserve.

Because this 1,449-acre preserve is one of the larger unfragmented woods in southern Michigan, it provides important habitat for many bird species, especially during spring and fall migration. Many species can be observed in the mix of habitats found at Ross. Be sure to wear a hat and sunscreen as well as sturdy walking shoes or boots.

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 the Conservancy as well as a Michigan deer hunting license. Additionally, hunters must report any deer taken from the preserve.

Permitted Activities:

Prohibited Activities:

  • No Motorized and non-motorized vehicles
  • No Pets
  • No hunting or trapping without a Conservancy-issued permit
  • No removal of plants or animals (alive or dead)
  • No removal of rocks, water or other non-organic materials
  • No camping, bonfires, fireworks or other fires

Please see "Preserve Visitation Guidelines."


From South Haven or Saint Joseph, Michigan:

  • Take Exit 13/32nd Ave toward Covert (east)
  • After 3.8 miles, turn right (south) on 76th St
  • Go 1.5 miles; turn right (west) on 38th Ave
  • Go 1.5 miles to end of 38th Ave
  • Park at cul-de-sac

From Watervliet, Michigan: 

  • From Watervliet's intersection of I-94 and M-140 (Exit 41), take M-140 north 6.2 miles to CR-376 (a.k.a. 44th Avenue).
  • Turn left (west) on CR-376 and travel 3.3 miles to a dirt driveway with a locked vehicle gate on your right (north side of road), opposite the "Dune Lake Campground" sign.
  • Park in the pull-out near the gate. The walk-through entrance is located on the west side of the locked vehicle gate




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!

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