Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Photo of State Natural Area © Thomas Meyer

Kettle Moraine Oak Opening in Iowa County
© Thomas Meyer

October 2011

Wisconsin, naturally

Kettle Moraine Oak Opening

Notable: Kettle Moraine Oak Opening lies in the heart of the jumbled and rugged landscape of the interlobate moraine, an area of glacially-formed kettle holes, kames (conical mounds), and gravelly hills and ridges. The natural area is a mixture of oak opening and oak woodland communities dominated by open-grown bur and black oaks. Small dry prairie openings occur on gravel knobs and steep south- and west-facing ridges. Bald Bluff, the largest and most diverse of these, contains short grasses such as little blue-stem, side-oats grama, and prairie drop-seed. Forbs include pasqueflower, grooved yellow flax, and a host of autumn-blooming asters and goldenrods. The best area of oak opening lies southeast of Blue Spring Lake. It features big blue-stem, Indian grass, purple prairie-clover, white camass, lead-plant, Illinois tick-trefoil, and a large population of the state-threatened kitten tails.

How to get there: Within the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest in Jefferson and Walworth counties. From the intersection of State Highway 59 and County Highway H in Palmyra, go south on H 2.7 miles to the Bald Bluff parking area east of the road. Access is also available from Young Road and Bluff Road. The Ice Age Trail traverses the site. Vehicles must display a state park admission sticker. Visit Kettle Moraine Oak Opening for information and maps of the site.