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Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Spring Green Preserve (No. 102)

Spring Green Preserve

Photo by Thomas A. Meyer/DNR



Sauk County. T8N-R4E, Sections 5, 6. T9N-R3E, Sections 35, 36. T9N-R4E, Sections 31, 32. 1,104 acres.



Spring Green Preserve, known as the 'Wisconsin Desert', features a rolling sand prairie on an old Wisconsin River terrace and harbors a unique flora and fauna that are adapted to the hot, droughty environment. The dry sandy soils contain many desert-like plants such as false heather, three-awn grass, and prickly pear cactus. Nearly 40 species of annuals and biennials thrive here, a high number for a prairie, including plains snake-cotton, Venus'-looking-glass, and dwarf dandelion. Several sand blows, with shifting dunes and open sand, are scattered throughout. Bird life is diverse and includes large numbers of rare open country birds such as the dickcissel. The invertebrates, however, are the most unusual of the Spring Green fauna. Several of the spiders and insects are not known from any other site in Wisconsin. Of special interest are the black widow and several wolf spiders, five species of cicada, eight species of tiger beetles, and predatory wasps. A large pocket gopher population has created patches of open ground where short-lived plants grow. Spring Green Reserve is owned by The Nature Conservancy and was designated a State Natural Area in 1972.


Driving directions

From the intersection of Highways 14 and 23 north of Spring Green, go north on 23 0.5 mile, then east on Jones Road 0.75 mile (just past Fire #E5196A), then north on Angelo Lane to a parking area. Trails lead through the site.

For available hunting opportunities, visit The Nature Conservancy's website: The Nature Conservancy [exit DNR].


Spring Green Preserve is owned by:

  • The Nature Conservancy


The DNR's state natural areas program is comprised of lands owned by the state, private conservation organizations, municipalities, other governmental agencies, educational institutions and private individuals. While the majority of SNAs are open to the public, access may vary according to individual ownership policies. Public use restrictions may apply due to public safety, or to protect endangered or threatened species or unique natural features. Lands may be temporarily closed due to specific management activities. Users are encouraged to contact the landowner for more specific details.

The data shown on these maps have been obtained from various sources, and are of varying age, reliability, and resolution. The data may contain errors or omissions and should not be interpreted as a legal representation of legal ownership boundaries.

To create your own custom map where you can zoom to a specific location, please use the DNR's mapping application.


Very few State Natural Areas have public facilities, but nearly all are open for a variety of recreational activities as indicated below. Generally, there are no picnic areas, restrooms, or other developments. Parking lots or designated parking areas are noted on individual SNA pages and maps. Trails, if present, are typically undesignated footpaths. If a developed trail is present, it will normally be noted on the SNA map and/or under the "Access" tab. A compass and topographic map or a GPS unit are useful tools for exploring larger, isolated SNAs.

The good majority of SNAs are isolated and have few or no facilities. Some SNAs have vehicle access lanes or parking lots, but their accessibility may vary depending on weather conditions. Parking lots and lanes are not plowed during winter. Hiking trails may be nonexistent or consist of undeveloped footpaths. A GPS unit or compass and detailed topographic map are useful tools for exploring larger SNAs.

Non-DNR lands

Entrance fees: For non-DNR-owned SNAs, we are unaware of any vehicle or admission fees. However, please contact the landowner for more information.

Hunting and trapping

This is a non-DNR owned SNA: Opportunities for hunting and trapping depend on the land owner. Please contact them directly to find out about their rules for hunting and trapping. You can find a link to other owner websites under the "Resources" heading above. More details regarding allowable uses of this non-DNR owned SNA may be posted, if available, under the "Access" tab above.

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Other activities

Other allowable activities such as - but not limited to camping, geocaching and bicycling are determined by the landowner. Please contact them directly or visit their websites for details.

Last revised: Monday, March 27, 2023