Fall Color of the Prairies and Savannas

It’s not too late to enjoy the beauty of fall on the prairie, savanna, or oak woodland near you.  The prairie does not produce the brilliant yellows, oranges and reds of the northern forest, but rather has a more quiet appeal and subtle beauty.


Fringed gentian (Gentianoposis crinita). A native annual or biennial that likes moist conditions; often found in wet meadows and near streams.

The images shown are of restored prairies in central Wisconsin, all within an hour’s drive–or, in some cases,  an easy bike ride–from Madison.  Some are urban and others in rural Wisconsin.  Chances are there are many restorations and natural areas near you to visit.

Fall scenes at the Aldo Leopold Foundation

Aldo’s Prairie at the Aldo Leopold Foundation.

The pleasures of the prairie are best enjoyed on a hike through one of our local nature preserves and restoration sites.  A few suggestions for trip planning would include:  Cherokee Marsh, a unit of City of Madison Parks;  Pheasant Branch Conservancy in Middleton, WI; The Swamplovers Preserve on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail as well as Dane County’s Festge County Park, both near Cross Plains.

Sunrise over Curtis Prairie

Early morning October light on Curtis Prairie in the UW-Madison Arboretum

And early morning is a good time for a peaceful walk in your local prairie restoration.

Fall scenes at the Aldo Leopold Foundation

Prairie smoke and oak leaf at the Aldo Leopold Foundation.

One often needs to slow down and look closely to enjoy the fall colors of the prairie.

04 Steve Glass "Fall in the Arboretum"

Fall in the UW-Madison Arboretum on the edge of Curtis Prairie.

Curtis Prairie, one of the world’s earliest restoration projects.

For prairie viewing trips further afield, think about the International Crane Foundation, near Baraboo, WI; or Goose Pond Sanctuary, a project of Madison Audubon Society, near Arlington, WI

The "Shack" and Aldo's Prairie at The Aldo Leopold Foundation

Aldo Leopold’s Prairie adjacent to Leopold’s Shack at the Aldo Leopold Foundation near Barabo, Wisconsin.

Aldo’s Prairie is sixty miles from the UW-Madison Arboretum’s Curtis Prairie.  According to Leopold family members, work on this restoration project began the same year–1935– as plantings in Curtis Prairie were initiated.

About Steve Glass

The blogger is a restoration ecologist, Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner (#0093 SER) and writer living in the Midwestern United States.
This entry was posted in "The Shack", Aldo Leopold, Curtis Prairie, Fall foliage, Prairie forbs, Prairie plants, Prairie restoration, Restoration ecology, The Aldo Leopold Foundation and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Fall Color of the Prairies and Savannas

  1. Sandy Stark says:

    Wow! Lovely photos and reminders. Hope you are framing all or some of these photos! When is your gallery showing??!

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