Barneveld Prairie

This is a great place to see a remnant of the vast prairies that once covered southern Wisconsin.

Why You Should Visit

This is a great place to see a remnant of the vast tallgrass prairies and savannas that once covered most of southern Wisconsin. Surrounded by an agricultural landscape, the hilltops and valleys at Barneveld Prairie provide habitat for colorful butterflies and uncommon birds that thrive in large, open, treeless landscapes.


Southwest Wisconsin: near Barneveld in Iowa County - about 30 miles from Madison


Open year-round, dawn to dusk


The primitive, unmarked trail traverses steep terrain. 


Once common throughout southern Wisconsin, prairies are very rare today. The Conservancy is working to conserve and restore some of the few remaining remnants.

The Conservancy purchased its first 79 acres at Barneveld Prairie in 1997 from Harold Thomas. In October 2002, the Conservancy bought an additional 892 acres at Barneveld Prairie from Dr. Richard and Margaret Botham. Located in the Town of Brigham, the property contains a diverse mix of prairie remnants, prairie pastures*, CRP lands, oak savanna, alfalfa fields, wetlands, row crop fields, and wooded draws. It provides important habitat for grassland birds like meadowlarks, bobolinks, vesper and grasshopper sparrows, dickcissels, and upland sandpipers, whose populations are declining worldwide. Loss of suitable habitat and the fragmentation of surviving grasslands are two of the major reasons for these declines. This parcel of land has been named the Muehllehner Addition to Barneveld Prairie in honor of Ursula and Gerd Muehllehner who made a generous donation to cover almost half of the acquisition cost.


Like much of the remaining prairie remnants, the absence of fire at Barneveld has allowed non-native plants and native shrubs to overtake native grasses and flowers. Conservancy volunteers are helping restore the prairie by:

  • removing buckthorn, honeysuckle, prickly ash, and other invading trees and shrubs
  • mending and removing old fences
  • collecting the seeds of native wildflowers for use in future prairie plantings.

* Two of these pastures are still being actively grazed. For your own safety please do not scale fences or open gates, and stay out of pastures that are currently being grazed.

The Conservancy owns and manages 1,193 acres at Barneveld Prairie Preserve and has assisted partners in protecting an additional 190 acres.


What to See: Plants

Several rare plants: woolly milkweed, Hill's thistle, prairie bush clover, Indian plantain

Others: prairie dropseed, shooting stars, violets

What to See: Birds & Butterflies

Uncommon birds that need large, open, treeless landscapes to thrive do well here. The upland sandpiper and bobolink are two examples.

Good hiking shoes are an absolute must.

Note that hunting for white-tailed deer, wild turkey and pheasant is allowed at Barneveld Prairie during the regular posted seasons, with no prior permission from the Conservancy required.  Dogs are allowed on the preserve but must be on leash from April 1 to July 31 to protect ground-nesting birds. When dogs are off-leash, they must be kept under voice control by their owners at all times to prevent them from creating a nuisance on adjacent properties and residences.  Click here to go to the DNR's hunting season date website.

Please see our Preserve Visitation Guidelines webpage for more information on visiting Conservancy preserves.


Directions to the 79-acre Thomas tract
From Madison:

  • Drive west on US Hwy 18/151 for about 28 miles.
  • Go through the village of Barneveld, and go 1 mile to County Highway T.
  • Go south (left) on T approximately 0.75 mile, then look for The Nature Conservancy sign.
  • Park along the eastern side of the road near the sign.
  • Check out the informational kiosk at the preserve's entrance.

Directions to the 1,093-acre Muehllehner Addition
From Barneveld:

  • Take Cty Hwy K south. 
  • Cross US Highway 18/151 and travel 1.5 miles to the junction of Cnty Hwy K and Langberry Rd.
  • Go west on Langberry 0.5 miles to the junction of Lee and Langberry.
  • Visitors should pull their vehicles off to the side of the road at the junction of Langberry and Lee Roads.  There is a small parking lot along Cty Hwy K.
  • Walk north to the area of the preserve that is not in row crops or being grazed.  (Much of the preserve is currently being rented for row crops or pasture.)
  • There is a long mowed trail on the Muehllehner Addition.  The trail is not marked but is pretty easy to follow.

Map to Barneveld Prairie

All of our preserve maps are now georeferenced. You can download the free PDF Maps app on your Apple or Android device, and it will allow you to view your location, record GPS tracks, add placemarks and find places.


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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