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Trip to Kasota Prairie SNA and environs

Hi all,

Due to the weather forecast our outing to Kasota Prairie SNA will be changed to Sunday, July 12, 2020. We will meet at 9:30 AM at Ottawa Bluffs Preserve. The itinerary for the field trip is below.

If you know of others that may be interested in attending, please invite them.

Larry Kennebeck

763 528 8220

Sponsored by The Friends of the Minnesota SNAs 


Date: Please attend on the rain date of Sunday, July 12. The original July 11 attendance date is forecasted to be rainy. Any further last-minute weather-related cancellation will be posted by email by 7am or call the trip leader at 763 528 8220. All attendees shall comply with the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota DNR pandemic recommendations, including the use of face masks and social distancing as appropriate.

Meeting location: With your directions in hand, drive directly to Ottawa Bluffs Preserve and arrive at about 9:30 AM. We are not forming car pools. 

Travel direction: West on I-494 and then south on Hwy 169 to St Peter, Mn. The trip is about 60 miles and 1 hour depending on your starting location.

What to bring/wear: Long pants, water, lunch, camera if desired, sun glasses if desired, mosquito and tick repellant if desired. Closed toe shoes or boots with good grip are necessary if you climb Ottawa Bluffs. Waterproof boots are necessary if you enter the calcareous fen.

Safety Guidelines: Outdoor Recreation, Facilities & Public Guidelines, under section Guidelines for the Public starting on p.7

MDH recommendations

CDC Visiting Parks & Recreational Facilities

Trip Leader: Larry Kennebeck, 763 528 8220,


Stop 1: Ottawa Bluffs Preserve

Directions to Ottawa Bluffs: From 169 in St Peter turn east on Highway 99.  Continue on Highway 99 for about one mile and then turn left on County Road 23.  After about four miles, look for the small yellow and green Conservancy boundary marker signs, and for a green mailbox on the right which holds preserve information.  Park along the road. 

What to see: 63 acres of oak savannah. This is a steep bluff where you have to be a goat to climb it. On the top it is a nice view with an Indian mound and interesting forbs. Present is the western harvest mouse and a species of jumping spider, both species of special concern. Also present are five state listed plant species.

Those with a climbing challenge may choose to search the nearby calcareous fens at Ottawa WMA rather than Ottawa Bluffs. Brian O'Brien, and perhaps others, know where some of the multiple fens are located.

Site leader and guide: William (Bill) Ramsden,, Cell 612-418-5061, Site Manager for Ottawa Bluffs


Stop 2. Kasota Prairie SNA (lunch stop)

Directions to Kasota Prairie SNA: Return to St Peter and go south on Hwy 169. Go almost through St Peter and take a left onto Co Road 22, Take a right on Hwy 102 or follow a sign pointing towards the town of Kasota. From Kasota, go 2 miles south on Co Road 21, then 1.5 miles west on 480th St, then 0.75 miles N on 367th Ave. Park along road near the sign at the site.

What to see: 45 acres. On a rock terrace 70 feet above the Minnesota River Valley with 1 foot of topsoil. look for yellow nutsedge on the meadow area, and sullivant's milkweed. Rattlesnake master, marks the northern extent of its range. Be on the lookout for transplanted tuberous indian plantain. If you go down the bank to the Minnesota River floodplain you may find yellow lady slippers. Wear waterproof boots but don't sink into a deep wet spot.

Site leader and guide: Brian O'Brien, Professor Chemistry at Gustavus Adolphus College, Co-designer of Linnaeus Arboretum, with a botany interest since childhood.


Stop 3: Kasota Prairie Preserve (Covia Prairie Preserve)

(This tour can be abbreviated for those returning early or for those going to the winery)

Directions to Kasota Prairie: Continue north on 367th Ave for 1/2 mile to the dead end and park in the lot by the big erratic.

What to see: 90 acres. This private restored prairie is open to the public and has species like wild garlic, prairie turnup, and great St. Johnswort. Kasota Prairie is a dry-gravel prairie. It contains virgin prairie, previously grazed and restored prairie, forested river bluffs, a man-made lake, and shoreline of the Minnesota River.

Note: Covia Corporation (formerly Unamin) is a silica sand mining company with underground mines in Kasota and Ottawa. The mines have been temporarily shut down.

Site leader and guide: TBD


Stop 4: Chankaska Creek Winery (optional)

Directions: Reverse your direction through Kasota on Co Road 21and out to Co Road 22. Turn east or right for a very short distance. Look for a sign along Co Road 22 and enter the drive to the winery.

What to do: It is a picturesque spot to relax outdoors and quench our thirst/hunger with water, soft drinks, wine, or food. People I know say it is the most beautiful winery in Minnesota. Chankaska has a black walnut and maple flavored cordial.

General Map

Here is a Mn DNR map of the entire area that includes Ottawa WMA.


Larry Kennebeck

763 528 8220

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