Visitors Guide to
Fults Hill Prairie Nature Preserve

Bluff Road
Monroe County, Illinois

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Fults Hill Prairie Nature Preserve is part of the 997-acre Fults Hill Prairie State Natural Area that sits atop bluffs with an expansive views of the Mississippi River valley. The preserve consists of 532 acres of upland habitat that includes woodland, prairie and glade communities that overlooks the American Bottom, a large stretch of floodplains along the Mississippi River in eastern Illinois. The area has the largest complex of high-quality loess hill prairies in Illinois. Loess is a type of soil that was created after the last glacial ice sheet retreated and winds created huge dust storms that were deposited on the Mississippi River bluffs. It was on these deposits that hillside prairies took root. The Fults Hill prairie is an example of a hillside prairie and differs from the prairies of the Midwest flatlands that people usually associate with the word prairie. Like other hill grasslands in Illinois, the Fults Hill prairie survived only because it was too steep to farm. With the inclusion of the woodlands and glades and with Kidd Lake State Natural Area providing a look at a marsh land habitat the area offers it visitors a wide variety of nature to view and enjoy. The area contains the Fults Hill Prairie Nature Preserve Trail, a 1.4 mile loop trail that has a 250 foot ascent and is rated as extreme. It does feature a wooden stair case for half the ascent up the right side path followed by a dirt path to the top. The top features a fairly level path through the hill prairie habitat and  through the woodlands. The descent travels through both hill prairie and woodlands down a steep descent along a rocky path. The trail is accessible year-round.

Wildflower Guide

Woodland wildflowers in bloom from March to early May include bloodroot, spring beauty, bellwort, false Solomon's seal, toothwort, may apple, Dutchmans breeches, trout lily, wild geranium, wild columbine, phlox, violets, bluebells, and Jack-in-the pulpit.

Prairie wildflowers blooming in early summer include false boneset, blue hearts, pale purple coneflower, flowering spurge, prickly pear cactus, hairy petunia, rose verbana, butterfly milkweed, spiderwort, tickseed coreopsis and mountain mint

Prairie plants blooming mid to late summer are big bluestem, little bluestem, side-oats gramma, Indian grass, sky blue aster, silky aster, partridge pea, white prairie clover, purple prairie clover, rough blazing star, goldenrod, pale purple coneflower, Missouri orange coneflower, rattlesnake master, and flowering spurge.

Bird Watching
Birds that are commonly sighted during spring migration are a variety of warblers, American redstart, rose-breasted grosbeak and wood thrush. Turkey vultures, often seen in groups of five or six, are common in the fall. Also seen overhead from September through November are migrating hawks such as red-tailed, broad-winged, Cooper's and sharp-shinned hawks as well as osprey and northern harriers. An occasional bald eagle may be seen during the winter months.

Visiting Fults Hill Prairie Nature Preserve
     Visiting Hours
          Open daily, for foot traffic only, from dawn to dusk
There is no charge to visit Fults Hill Prairie Nature Preserve.

Directions: Fults Hill Prairie Nature Preserve is located south of the small town of Valmeyer. From the Great River Road (IL-3) at the southern edge of Waterloo take IL-156 (Park Street) west to Valmeyer. In Valmeyer take Bluff Street south to S. Michael Street. Take S. Michael Street, which turns into Bluff Road, south approximately 7 miles to the Fults Hill Prairie Nature Preserve parking lot. For visitors wishing to travel through Maeystown take an immediate left after turning onto 156 (Park Street) in Waterloo. From Main Street in Maeystown take Maeystown road 2.1 to Bluff Road. Take a right and go south on Bluff Road 5.6 miles to the Fults Hill Prairie parking lot. Fults Hill Prairie can also be accessed taking Bluff Road in Prairie du Rocher (near the grain elevator) and travelling north approximately 6.5 miles.

GPS Coordinates
N  38°  09.363'
W 90°  11.379'

Learn more about the Monroe County area.

Fults Hill Prairie State Natural Area - Official Fults Hill Prairie State Natural Area page maintained by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

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