Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

The country’s first national tallgrass prairie near Elwood and Wilmington, Illinois is a birdwatcher’s delight, possesses a herd of bison and has more than 13,000 acres and over 30 miles of trails open to the public. Main trails are dirt roads.



Iron Bridge Trailhead and the Welcome Center are in different locations just off Illinois State Route 53 between Elwood on the north and Wilmington on the south. The main parking lot is located off River Road close to the intersection of River Road and Illinois State Route 53. A detailed map may be found here.

Managed By

Distance from Downtown Chicago

59 miles from the center of town

How To Get There

Bike, Walk, Drive


The parking lots are accessible, and restrooms by the parking lots are accessible. None of the trails are paved but those made of crushed limestone may be suitable for the physically challenged. The northern end of the Henslow Trail located by the Iron Bridge Trailhead is the best bet.

Things To Do

Biking, Birdwatching (known for the dickcissel; other birds include brown-headed cowbirds, eastern meadowlark, field sparrow, killdeer, northern mockingbird, red-tailed hawk); a brochure entitled “Birdwatching at Midewin” which lists various bird species which may be observed is available at trailheads and at the Welcome Center), Cross-Country Skiing, Hiking (Henslow’s Trail is recommended), Horseback Riding, Jogging, Picnicking, Running, Watchable Wildlife (bison; the author observed them while driving on Hoff Road between Monee and Manhattan) and Wildflowers

Fun Facts

The prairie is located on the site of the former Joliet Army Ammunition Plant. The bison herd was introduced in 2015 to study bison interaction with prairie conservation and restoration.

Other Information

In season bicycle rentals are provided at the Iron Bridge Trailhead and at the Welcome Center. The Movatic App must be downloaded to your smartphone to access the bicycles. Picnic tables and restrooms are located at the trailheads. Drinking water is available at the Welcome Center.


For those traveling from the north or east, delicious pastries may be obtained at Kirby’s Korner Bakery, 165 South State Street, Manhattan, Illinois.

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Nearby Public Lands Worth Visiting

Best Time To Visit

All year

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