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For information on State Natural Areas, contact:
Thomas Meyer
Natural areas conservation biologist

Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Chase Creek (No. 640)

Chase Creek

Photo by E. Epstein



Grant County. T4N-R6W, Sections 2, 3. 124 acres.



Chase Creek supports an algific talus slope, a rare natural community that is known only from the southwestern corner of Wisconsin's Driftless Area. Due to a unique mix of topography, geology, and vegetation, these slopes remain cool throughout the year and are home to rare plants and animals. The term algific is derived from the Latin for "cold-producing" and talus refers to the rocky debris found at the base of cliffs. Algific talus slopes are small and isolated and tend to occur on steep north- or east-facing slopes with a substrate of fractured limestone (dolomite) bedrock that retains ice and emits cold air throughout the growing season. Rainwater enters gaps and fissures in the dolomite, freezes in winter, and then slowly melts during the summer months and produces a steady outflow of cold air that spills out of the base of the slope through numerous vents or small openings in the talus. Sinkholes located on the top of the slope allow warm air to enter, creating a constant flow of cold, moist air through the system. In summer, talus slopes appear as lush, treeless openings on forested hillsides. The "refrigerated" limestone blocks covered by thin soil are too cold for most tree roots to survive. Soil temperatures remain fairly constant, varying between 24-50˚F. These cold microhabitats support and enable the persistence of disjunct northern plant species, and "periglacial relicts" such as northern monkshood and globally rare terrestrial snails. One snail is truly remarkable considering it was previously known only from fossils, found in deposits as far south as Kentucky. Scientists were amazed to recently find this species alive on algific slopes in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. These slopes are among the state's scarcest ecosystems and despite intensive searches, only two functioning algific slope complexes are known to remain in Wisconsin; Chase Creek is the only one protected as a State Natural Area. Chase Creek is owned by the Mississippi Valley Conservancy and was designated a State Natural Area in 2011.


Driving directions

From Glen Haven, go north on Dugway Road 1.2 miles. Mississippi Valley Conservancy signs mark the property.


Chase Creek is owned by:

  • Mississippi Valley 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.


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: Tuesday, July 21, 2020