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Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Midway Railroad Prairie (No. 18)

Midway Railroad Prairie

Photo by Thomas A. Meyer/DNR



La Crosse County. T17N-R7W, Sections 29, 30. 5 acres.



Midway Prairie is a small dry-mesic sand prairie remnant on a western-facing slope of a Mississippi River terrace. Soils are Sparta and Plainfield sands and loamy sands. Although the site was originally established to preserve the early spring show of pasque flower, the prairie is diverse and contains more than 70 species of prairie plants. Representative forb species include lead-plant, puccoons, silky aster, and purple prairie-clover; the dominant grasses are porcupine grass, switch grass, June grass, big blue-stem, and little blue-stem. Common animals are field sparrow, red-winged blackbird, and American goldfinch. Midway Railroad Prairie is owned by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and was designated a State Natural Area in 1955.


Driving directions

From the southernmost intersection of State Highway 35 and County Highway OT in Midway (north of Onalaska), go west on OT less than 0.1 mile, then south on County Highway ZM 0.1 mile. Park along the road near the Midway Prairie sign on the right. Walk down slope into the prairie. Also accessible from the Great River State Trail.


Midway Railroad Prairie is owned by:

  • US Fish & Wildlife Service


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: Friday, February 24, 2023