Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR

Touch the Sky Prairie Unit


Area and County

    Rock County
    Southwest Minnesota

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927 acres


Trail Map (Brandenburg Prairie Foundation)


 Printable Maps with GPS coordinates




North Section

Printable map   Printable map

Central Section


South Section

Printable map   Printable map

North Parking
N43 44.835, W96 16.041

Southeast Parking
N43 43.986, W96 16.706

Southwest Parking
N43 43.962, W96 17.233

Hiking Trails

There are mowed trails throughout the site.



Ecological Classification Province  

Prairie Parkland Province

Ecological Classification

North Central Glaciated Plains


Inner Coteau

Land Type Association(s)

Blue Mounds

Trosky Till Plain

Native Plant Communities1

Crystalline Bedrock Outcrop (Prairie): Sioux Quartzite Subtype

Mesic Prairie (Southern)



Brandenburg Prairie Foundation

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service


The Northern Tallgrass Prairie National Wildlife Refuge consists of a mix of

  • 41 privately-owned easements that are not open to the public
  • 8 units owned by the refuge system that are open to the public, six of which are in Minnesota.
  • 9 units owned by The Nature Conservancy in Minnesota, all of which are open to the public.

Touch the Sky Prairie Unit is the only unit that on 7/9/2014 had maintained trails and visitor kiosks with interpretive signs.








Visitor Photos

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North Section


  Touch the Sky Prairie, north section  

National Wildlife Refuge Sign

  Touch the Sky Prairie, north section    

Mesic Prairie (Southern)

  Touch the Sky Prairie, north section   Touch the Sky Prairie, north section

Crystalline Bedrock Outcrop (Prairie): Sioux Quartzite Subtype

  Touch the Sky Prairie, north section    

Cattail Marsh

  Touch the Sky Prairie, north section    
Central Section


  Touch the Sky Prairie, central section   Touch the Sky Prairie, central section

Commemorative Marker

  Touch the Sky Prairie, central section    

Mesic Prairie (Southern)

  Touch the Sky Prairie, central section   Touch the Sky Prairie, central section

Crystalline Bedrock Outcrop (Prairie): Sioux Quartzite Subtype

  Touch the Sky Prairie, central section   Touch the Sky Prairie, central section

Other Prairie

  Touch the Sky Prairie, central section    

Beaver Creek

  Touch the Sky Prairie, central section    
South Section


  Touch the Sky Prairie, south section   Touch the Sky Prairie, south section

Mesic Prairie (Southern)

  Touch the Sky Prairie, south section    

Intermittent Stream

  Touch the Sky Prairie, south section   Touch the Sky Prairie, south section






Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  Touch The Sky Prairie
Bradley Herreid

Published on May 5, 2013

Spring morning at Touch The Sky Prairie

  Brandenburg Prairie Foundation: Touch the Sky Prairie

Uploaded on Nov 17, 2011

This is a stroll through The Touch the Sky Prairie near Blue Mounds State Park in Luverne, MN. This 1000 acre prairie preserve was purchased in partnership between The Brandenburg Prairie Foundation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1999. More information can be found at

©Anthony Brandenburg




Visitor Sightings

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One bird species with conservation status in Minnesota has been seen on at least one of the units of this NWR:


Special concern

Greater Prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus cupido)


eBird Field Checklist (Complete)

eBird Field Checklist (Rd 68)


American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)

American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)

American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)

Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus)

Clay-colored Sparrow (Spizella pallida)

Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)

Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)

Dickcissel (Spiza americana)

Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus)

Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum)

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)

Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis)

Sedge Wren (Cistothorus platensis)

Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)

Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)

American Goldfinch

American Robin

Mourning Dove

Red-winged Blackbird

Song Sparrow

Insects and Arachnids

One insect species with conservation status in Minnesota has been seen on at least one of the units of this NWR:



Dakota skipper (Hesperia dacotae)


American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis)

black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

common green darner (Anax junius)

common wood nymph (Cercyonis pegala)

goldenrod gall fly (Eurosta solidaginis)

monarch (Danaus plexippus)

orange sulphur (Colias eurytheme)

twelve-spotted skimmer (Libellula pulchella)

variegated meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum)

widow skimmer (Libellula luctuosa)

common green darner





plains pocket gopher (Geomys bursarius)

whitetail deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

whitetail deer


One plant species with conservation status in Minnesota is found here:



western prairie fringed orchid (Platanthera praeclara)



blue mudplantain (Heteranthera limosa)

prairie blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium campestre)

two-headed water starwort (Callitriche heterophylla var. heterophylla)

water pygmyweed (Crassula aquatica)


Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas Plant List


Plants frequently found in:

Crystalline Bedrock Outcrop (Prairie): Sioux Quartzite Subtype ROs12a2

Mesic Prairie (Southern) UPs23a



American bugleweed (Lycopus americanus)

American elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)

American plum (Prunus americana)

asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)

big bluestem (Andropogon gerardi)

bittersweet nightshade (Solanum dulcamara)

black bindweed (Fallopia convolvulus)

black medick (Medicago lupulina)

blue vervain (Verbena hastata var. scabra)

bracted spiderwort (Tradescantia bracteata)

bull thistle (Cirsium vulgare)

butter and eggs (Linaria vulgaris)

Canada anemone (Anemone canadensis)

Canada lettuce (Lactuca canadensis)

Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense)

Canadian tick-trefoil (Desmodium canadense)

candle anemone (Anemone cylindrica)

clammy groundcherry (Physalis heterophylla var. heterophylla)

clammy hedge-hyssop (Gratiola neglecta)

clasping-leaved Venus’ looking-glass (Triodanis perfoliata ssp. perfoliata)

common evening primrose (Oenothera biennis)

common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

common mullein (Verbascum thapsus ssp. thapsus)

common plantain (Plantago major)

common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia)

common strawberry (Fragaria virginiana)

common yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

compass plant (Silphium laciniatum)

cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum var. perfoliatum)

curly dock (Rumex crispus)

curly-cup gumweed (Grindelia squarrosa)

desert false indigo (Amorpha fruticosa)

downy phlox (Phlox pilosa ssp. fulgida)

early figwort (Scrophularia lanceolata)

field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis)

field clover (Trifolium campestre)

field horsetail (Equisetum arvense)

field sow thistle (Sonchus arvensis)

foxtail barley (Hordeum jubatum ssp. jubatum)

giant goldenrod (Solidago gigantea)

golden alexanders (Zizia aurea)

gray-headed coneflower (Ratibida pinnata)

green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica)

grimmia dry rock moss (Grimmia laevigata)

hairy hedge nettle (Stachys pilosa var. pilosa)

heart-leaved four o’clock (Mirabilis nyctaginea)

heart-leaved golden alexanders (Zizia aptera)

hedge bindweed (Calystegia sepium ssp. angulata)

hoary alyssum (Berteroa incana)

hoary vervain (Verbena stricta)

Indian hemp (Apocynum cannabinum)

leadplant (Amorpha canescens)

little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium var. scoparium)

Maximilian’s sunflower (Helianthus maximiliani)

meadow garlic (Allium canadense var. canadense)

musk thistle (Carduus nutans)

narrow-leaved cattail (Typha angustifolia)

narrow-leaved meadowsweet (Spiraea alba var. alba)

narrow-leaved purple coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia)

needle-and-thread (Hesperostipa comata ssp. comata)

northern bedstraw (Galium boreale)

plains cottonwood (Populus deltoides ssp. molinifera)

plains prickly pear (Opuntia macrorhiza)

plumeless thistle (Carduus acanthoides ssp. acanthoides)

prairie alumroot (Heuchera richardsonii)

prairie blazing star (Liatris pycnostachya var. pycnostachya)

prairie bush clover (Lespedeza leptostachya)

prairie coreopsis (Coreopsis palmata)

prairie fleabane (Erigeron strigosus var. strigosus)

prairie larkspur (Delphinium carolinianum ssp. virescens)

prairie peppergrass (Lepidium densiflorum)

prairie rose (Rosa arkansana)

prickly lettuce (Lactuca serriola)

purple prairie clover (Dalea purpurea var. purpurea)

red clover (Trifolium pratense)

roadside agrimony (Agrimonia striata)

rough blazing star (Liatris aspera)

rough cinquefoil (Potentilla norvegica)

rough false pennyroyal (Hedeoma hispida)

round-headed bush clover (Lespedeza capitata)

Siberian elm (Ulmus pumila)

smooth brome (Bromus inermis)

smooth oxeye (Heliopsis helianthoides var. scabra)

smooth scouring rush (Equisetum laevigatum)

spotted water hemlock (Cicuta maculata)

stiff goldenrod (Solidago rigida ssp. rigida)

sulphur cinquefoil (Potentilla recta)

swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata ssp. incarnata)

tall cinquefoil (Drymocallis arguta)

tall meadow-rue (Thalictrum dasycarpum)

timothy (Phleum pratense)

veiny pea (Lathyrus venosus var. intonsus)

Virginia groundcherry (Physalis virginiana var. virginiana)

water smartweed (Persicaria amphibia)

western marbleseed (Lithospermum occidentale)

white prairie clover (Dalea candida var. candida)

white sage (Artemisia ludoviciana ssp. ludoviciana)

white sweet clover (Melilotus albus)

wild cucumber (Echinocystis lobata)

wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa)

wolfberry (Symphoricarpos occidentalis)

wood lily (Lilium philadelphicum var. andinum)

woodbine (Parthenocissus vitacea)

yellow avens (Geum aleppicum)

yellow sweet clover (Melilotus officinalis)

yellow wood sorrel (Oxalis stricta)


Achillea millefolium (common yarrow)

Agrimonia striata (roadside agrimony)

Allium canadense var. canadense (meadow garlic)

Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed)

Amorpha canescens (leadplant)

Amorpha fruticosa (desert false indigo)

Andropogon gerardi (big bluestem)

Anemone canadensis (Canada anemone)

Anemone cylindrica (candle anemone)

Apocynum cannabinum (Indian hemp)

Artemisia ludoviciana ssp. ludoviciana (white sage)

Asclepias incarnata ssp. incarnata (swamp milkweed)

Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed)

Asparagus officinalis (asparagus)

Berteroa incana (hoary alyssum)

Bromus inermis (smooth brome)

Calystegia sepium. ssp. angulata (hedge bindweed)

Carduus acanthoides (plumeless thistle)

Carduus nutans (musk thistle)

Cicuta maculata (spotted water hemlock)

Cirsium arvense (Canada thistle)

Cirsium vulgare (bull thistle)

Convolvulus arvensis (field bindweed)

Coreopsis palmata (prairie coreopsis)

Dalea candida var. candida (white prairie clover)

Dalea purpurea var. purpurea (purple prairie clover)

Delphinium carolinianum ssp. virescens (prairie larkspur)

Desmodium canadense (Canadian tick-trefoil)

Drymocallis arguta (tall cinquefoil)

Echinacea angustifolia (narrow-leaved purple coneflower)

Echinocystis lobata (wild cucumber)

Equisetum arvense (field horsetail)

Equisetum laevigatum (smooth scouring rush)

Erigeron strigosus var. strigosus (prairie fleabane)

Fallopia convolvulus (black bindweed)

Fragaria virginiana (common strawberry)

Fraxinus pennsylvanica (green ash)

Galium boreale (northern bedstraw)

Geum aleppicum (yellow avens)

Gratiola neglecta (clammy hedge-hyssop)

Grimmia laevigata (grimmia dry rock moss)

Grindelia squarrosa (curly-cup gumweed)

Hedeoma hispida (rough false pennyroyal)

Helianthus maximiliani (Maximilian’s sunflower)

Heliopsis helianthoides var. scabra (smooth oxeye)

Hesperostipa comata ssp. comata (needle-and-thread)

Heuchera richardsonii (prairie alumroot)

Hordeum jubatum ssp. jubatum (foxtail barley)

Lactuca canadensis (Canada lettuce)

Lactuca serriola (prickly lettuce)

Lathyrus venosus var. intonsus) (veiny pea)

Lepidium densiflorum (prairie peppergrass)

Lespedeza capitata (round-headed bush clover)

Lespedeza leptostachya (prairie bush clover)

Liatris aspera (rough blazing star)

Liatris pycnostachya var. pycnostachya (prairie blazing star)

Lilium philadelphicum var. andinum (wood lily)

Linaria vulgaris (butter and eggs)

Lithospermum occidentale (western marbleseed)

Lycopus americanus (American bugleweed)

Medicago lupulina (black medick)

Melilotus albus (white sweet clover)

Melilotus officinalis (yellow sweet clover)

Mirabilis nyctaginea (heart-leaved four o’clock)

Oenothera biennis (common evening primrose)

Opuntia macrorhiza (plains prickly pear)

Oxalis stricta (yellow wood sorrel)

Parthenocissus vitacea (woodbine)

Pastinaca sativa (wild parsnip)

Persicaria amphibia (water smartweed)

Phleum pratense (timothy)

Phlox pilosa ssp. fulgida (downy phlox)

Physalis heterophylla var. heterophylla (clammy groundcherry)

Physalis virginiana var. virginiana (Virginia groundcherry)

Plantago major (common plantain)

Populus deltoides ssp. molinifera (plains cottonwood)

Potentilla norvegica (rough cinquefoil)

Potentilla recta (sulphur cinquefoil)

Prunus americana (American plum)

Ratibida pinnata (gray-headed coneflower)

Rosa arkansana (prairie rose)

Rumex crispus (curly dock)

Sambucus canadensis (American elderberry)

Schizachyrium scoparium var. scoparium (little bluestem)

Scrophularia lanceolata (early figwort)

Silphium laciniatum (compass plant)

Silphium perfoliatum var. perfoliatum (cup plant)

Solanum dulcamara (bittersweet nightshade)

Solidago gigantea (giant goldenrod)

Solidago rigida ssp. rigida (stiff goldenrod)

Sonchus arvensis (field sow thistle)

Spiraea alba var. alba (narrow-leaved meadowsweet)

Stachys pilosa var. pilosa (hairy hedge nettle)

Symphoricarpos occidentalis (wolfberry)

Thalictrum dasycarpum (tall meadow-rue)

Tradescantia bracteata (bracted spiderwort)

Trifolium campestre (field clover)

Trifolium pratense (red clover)

Triodanis perfoliata ssp. perfoliata (clasping-leaved Venus’ looking-glass)

Typha angustifolia (narrow-leaved cattail)

Ulmus pumila (Siberian elm)

Verbascum thapsus ssp. thapsus (common mullein)

Verbena hastata var. scabra (blue vervain)

Verbena stricta (hoary vervain)

Zizia aptera (heart-leaved golden alexanders)

Zizia aurea (golden alexanders)

American elderberry

American plum

bracted spiderwort

butter and eggs

Canada anemone

common evening primrose

common mullein

compass plant

cup plant

desert false indigo

gray-headed coneflower

heart-leaved four o’clock

hedge bindweed


musk thistle

narrow-leaved purple coneflower

northern bedstraw

prairie larkspur

prairie rose

purple prairie clover

red clover

rough cinquefoil

swamp milkweed

swamp smartweed

white prairie clover

wood lily

yellow sweet clover




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