Ottawa Bluffs






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The Nature Conservancy




The 62-acre Ottawa Bluffs Preserve consists of a patchwork of dry hill prairie and oak woodland on a steep bluff of the Minnesota River Valley. Visitors who undertake the steep and strenuous climb to the top of the bluff will be rewarded with an expansive view of the Minnesota River Valley and the town of St. Peter. An American Indian burial mound is at the top of the bluff. Western harvest mouse and a species of jumping spider, both species of special concern, and five state listed plant species have been found on the preserve.

The site has been owned since 1975 by The Nature Conservancy (TNC). The hill prairie, unsuitable for farming or pasture, remains mostly undisturbed by man. The previous owner began building a road from the bluff top to the base, but abandoned the effort less than half completed. The former roadbed is now grassy prairie and an eroded ravine. Decades of fire suppression have allowed woody species to encroach on and eliminate parts of the native prairie. Since 1989, volunteers for TNC have been working to remove juniper and other invasive woody species; check further erosion of the ravine; and restore a small part of oak woodland to its pre-settlement condition, oak savanna.


















Printable Map(s) with GPS coordinates

  Printable map      



62 acres




N44 21.788, W93 56.062


Driving Directions

  Area and County  

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          Le Sueur County  
          Southwest Minnesota  

Hiking Trails


There are no maintained trails. A well-worn footpath leads from the kiosk and parking spot through the woods to to a cornfield at the top of the bluff.




No hunting


Ecological Classification

  Ecological Classification  
  Ecological Province    

Eastern Broadleaf Forest Province

  Ecological Section    

Minnesota & NE Iowa Morainal

  Ecological Subsection    

Big Woods

  Land Type Association    

Cordova Moraine
Le Sueur Alluvial Plain


Native Plant Communities*


Dry Hill Prairie (Southern)

Pin Oak - Bur Oak Woodland

  * Source: The Minnesota Biological Survey, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Ecological Resources      

Natural Features


Prairie, oak savanna, oak woodland






Visitor Photos

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    Ottawa Bluffs   Ottawa Bluffs  
    Ottawa Bluffs      

East Wood Routed Sign

    Ottawa Bluffs   Ottawa Bluffs  
    Ottawa Bluffs      

West Wood Routed Sign

    Ottawa Bluffs   Ottawa Bluffs  

Nature Conservancy Mailbox with Visitor Log

    Ottawa Bluffs      

Information Sign

    Ottawa Bluffs   Ottawa Bluffs  

View from the Top

    Ottawa Bluffs      

Oak Savanna Restoration

    Ottawa Bluffs      

Dry Hill Prairie (Southern)

    Ottawa Bluffs   Ottawa Bluffs  
    Ottawa Bluffs   Ottawa Bluffs  
    Ottawa Bluffs      

Pin Oak - Bur Oak Woodland

    Ottawa Bluffs   Ottawa Bluffs  






Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  Come Explore the Prairie With Me! - Schaefer Prairie and Ottawa Bluffs | 2021 Adventures
Adventures of an Aspiring Something or Other

May 27, 2021

Join Jonas and I on a trip to explore two prairie areas in Southern Minnesota, Schaefer Prairie and Ottawa Bluffs. Both are owned and managed by the Nature Conservancy. A vlog-style video complete with my inability to remember anything I've ever learned about prairie plant identification, a lengthy discussion of prescribed fire and fire ecology in grasslands, unexpected wetlands, and a deep awakening moment about EXACTLY how out of shape I am.

Also... I will warn you that the camera work on this is not good. I can't see my display screen very well through my polarised sunglasses, and this combined with me walking over uneven ground means the camera spends a lot of time tilted funny and swooping around. Maybe skip the visual part of this if you get motion sick.

Say hi on Instagram:

  ottawa bluffs 5 6 16 hd
Greg Prunty

Jan 13, 2017

  Minnesota River Final Draft 4112.wmv

Published on Apr 5, 2012

A 26 mile journey from Mankato to the Ottawa Bluffs




Visitor Sightings

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  northern leopard frog (Rana pipiens)   northern leopard frog  



Two bird species with conservation status in Minnesota have been seen here (or seen in flight or nearby while standing on this site):

Special Concern

American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator)


eBird Field Checklist


American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)

  Northern Cardinal  

Fungi and Lichens

  Fan-shaped Jelly Fungus (Dacrymyces spathularia)   Fan-shaped Jelly Fungus  

Insects and Arachnids


One insect and arachnid species with conservation status in Minnesota has been seen here:

Special Concern

Texas ornamented jumping spider (Habronattus texanus)


Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas Insects List

  monarch (Danaus plexippus)   monarch  



One mammal species with conservation status in Minnesota has been seen here:

Special Concern

western harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys megalotis)




Five plant species with conservation status in Minnesota are found here:


butternut (Juglans cinerea)


beaked spike-rush (Eleocharis rostellata)

hair-like beak-rush (Rhynchospora capillacea)

sterile sedge (Carex sterilis)

whorled nut-rush (Scleria verticillata)


Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas and Minnesota Biological Survey Vegetation Releves Plant List


Plants frequently found in:

Dry Hill Prairie (Southern) UPs13d

Pin Oak - Bur Oak Woodland FDs37b


black-eyed susan

Canadian woodnettle

common mullein


prairie rose

silky aster

white snakeroot










































In early April American pasqueflower can be found on the south-facing slopes of the prairie.



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