Location and Visiting
Located 60 miles south of downtown Chicago, Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie offers critically important recreational opportunities for the metropolitan region. Midewin is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The Wetlands Initiative has partnered with the Forest Service for nearly 20 years to restore more than 1,800 acres of high-quality wetland and prairie landscapes at this historic site.
The Forest Service's Midewin Welcome Center is located 2 miles north of Wilmington on State Route 53. It can also be accessed via exit 241, Wilmington, off of I-55.
Nearly half of Midewin’s 20,000 acres are currently open to the public, including more than 34 miles of trails. Visitors can enjoy hiking, tours, bird-watching, horseback-riding, and other activities. People can hike where waving grasses and wildflowers stretch to the horizon and experience the surreal sight of abandoned concrete Army bunkers amid the prairie.
In October 2015, a herd of American bison was introduced at Midewin as part of an experiment on how their grazing will benefit the ongoing prairie restoration. The public has a chance to view them where they are roaming on a 1,200-acre area of fenced pasture. The area for viewing the bison can be accessed from the Iron Bridge Trailhead, which is located 2.9 miles north of the Welcome Center along Route 53.
Click here to visit the U.S. Forest Service's Midewin website for directions to the Welcome Center and other points of interest.