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Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Smith Slough and Sand Prairie (No. 250)

Smith Slough and Sand Prairie

Photo by Thomas A. Meyer



Within the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway, Richland County. T8N-R2E, Section 11 and Section 12, 397 acres.



Smith Slough and Sand Prairie contains a large complex of plant communities located in the Wisconsin River floodplain on alluvial sand deposits that fluctuate no more than 6 feet in topography. The site hosts a shallow seepage-fed oxbow lake that has become hydrologically isolated from the river. Lying south and west of the lake is a large undisturbed complex of sedge meadow, shrub-carr, and aquatic emergents that grades into big blue-stem dominated sand prairie and swamp white oak savanna on slightly elevated ridges. On the sand terraces along the lake is a narrow band of black oak barren with a ground flora of sedges, big and little blue-stem, and cream wild indigo. On higher ground is an area of open sand and old dunes that are now stabilized by false heather, black oak, and river birch. Also present is a bottomland hardwood forest dominated by swamp white oak with silver maple, green ash, American elm, and river birch in lower swales and swamp white oak, red oak, basswood, and yellowbud hickory on slightly higher ground. Some trees are in excess of 4 feet in diameter. Numerous uncommon fish species are found here. Smith Slough and Sand Prairie is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1991.


Driving directions

From the intersection of U.S. Highway 14 and State Highway 130 (S) in Lone Rock, go west on 14 1.5 miles, then south and east on an access road about 0.7 miles to a parking lot and boat launch.


Smith Slough and Sand Prairie is owned by:

  • WDNR


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.


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.

Allowable activities

In general, the activities listed below are allowed on all DNR-owned SNA lands. Exceptions to this list of public uses, such as SNAs closed to hunting, are noted under the "Access" tab above and posted with signs on site.

  • Hiking
  • Fishing
  • Cross country skiing
  • Hunting
  • Trapping

Prohibited activities

  • Camping and campfires
  • Collecting of animals (other than legally harvested species), non-edible fungi, rocks, minerals, fossils, archaeological artifacts, soil, downed wood, or any other natural material, alive or dead. Collecting for scientific research requires a permit issued by the DNR
  • Collecting of plants including seeds, roots or other non-edible parts of herbaceous plants such as wildflowers or grasses
  • Geocaching
  • Horseback riding
  • Rock climbing
  • Vehicles, including bicycles, ATVs, aircraft, and snowmobiles except on trails and roadways designated for their use

For rules governing state-owned SNAs and other state lands, please consult Chapter NR 45 Wis. Admin. Code [exit DNR]

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Last revised: Monday, June 10, 2019