Platte River Prairies Nature Trail


13650 South Platte River Drive, Wood River, Nebraska 68883


Open year-round, dawn to dusk.


1. Stay on trail.
2. No littering.
3. No camping.
4. No smoking.
5. Please keep dogs on leash. (There are large numbers of cactus on the trail.)
6. Leave it as you found it. (Cattle may be present along the trails.  Please be sure to close and latch the gate behind you.)

What to See

These prairies have a great diversity of plants, particularly grasses, sedges, and wildflowers.  That plant diversity provides resources and habitat for a host of animal species, from insects to birds.  During summer, common bird species can include grasshopper sparrows, bobolinks, dickcissels, upland sandpipers, bobwhite quail, sedge wrens, eastern and western meadowlarks, and many others.

The west trail passes through restored mesic and wet-mesic prairie.  These lowland grasslands are on alluvial soils - soils formed by historic Platte River flows.  The resulting mixture of sandy and sandy-loam soils distributed across the landscape results in a patchwork of plant communities tied to those soil types.  Plant species such as bluestem, indiangrass, Canada milkvetch, purple praire clover, and wild bergamot are common in these prairies.

The east trail starts in mesic prairie but soon travels uphill into sandhill prairie.  Both the restored and native portions of this prairie are underlaid by sand dunes constructed by historic winds blowing sand from the wide Platte River valley.  The plant communities on these sandhills are dominated by plants such as sand lovegrass, sand dropseed, needle-and-thread, stiff sunflower, blazing star, spiderwort, and many others.

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing

The Nature Conservancy is using a combination of prescribed fire and grazing to maintain the plant diversity in these prairies.  Both fire and grazing are major historic forces that shaped grasslands and they continue to be important tools for grassland management. 

Questions? Email us or call (402) 694-4191.

Please see the trail guide for a more details. The trail guide


At Exit 300 on Interstate 80, take State Highway 11 South-Southeast for approximately two miles. Highway 11 will make a sharp curve to the east. As Highway 11 makes this curve, Platte River Drive will be the first gravel road that goes directly south from Highway 11. There will be a driveway that goes to the Derr house (a red brick house on the hill).  The address is 13650 South Platte River Drive, Wood River, Nebraska, 68883.

Download a map.



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