Part of the Northern Tallgrass Prairie National Wildlife Refuge, the six foot tall grasses of Touch the Sky Prairie provide the perfect place for a tranquil getaway. Hedged in by farms, the remnant prairie provides critical habitat for a number of declining bird and plant species including the iconic prairie chicken and the endangered prairie fringed orchid.

Touch the Sky Prairie is the only one of the Northern Tallgrass National Wildlife Refuge's eight units to have hiking and interpretive facilities, making it a great adventure for anyone interested in experiencing a native prairie ecosystem.

Begin your hike at the parking area located on the south side of 181st Street. The trail will lead you south about a mile and half through the main section of restored prairie. This section of the hike is extremely flat, but tall grasses in the fall create a natural buffer between the trail and the surrounding farmland. When you hit 171st Street, follow the road west a short way. The trail will pick up again running another half-mile to a small waterfall cascading over a shelf of exposed Sioux quartzite. Keep a close eye on the ground for rare orchids and other wildflowers and listen carefully for the distinctive call of the prairie chickens.

This small adventure won't take a whole day, so pair it with a trip to the nearby Blue Mounds State Park or Pipestone National Monument.

Pack List

  • Water
  • Hiking Boots
  • Camera
  • Wildflower Guide
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RT Distance 3.7 Miles
Elevation Gain 110 Feet
Activities Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly


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Diamond In The Rough

I had never heard of this place but I will for sure check it out on our next trip to Pipestone National Monument! I appreciate the information regarding the local flora and fauna. Thanks for the inspiration!

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