Take a self-guided tour Thurston County’s Glacial Heritage Preserve

Learn about the prairie ecosystem, why it’s important, and what’s being done to preserve it on the interpretive trail.

While you’re enjoying the prairie

Join the Prairie Appreciation Days iNaturalist Project

We invite you to join the Prairie Appreciation Days community on iNaturalist as we document the biodiversity and phenology of the South Sound prairies and oak woodlands. We want to track which flowers are blooming, what insects are visiting them, when birds are arriving, and capture the wild variety of organisms that are inhabiting our prairies and oak woodlands.

Our focus is on South Puget Sound prairies, primarily Glacial Heritage Preserve, but also includes Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve, Scatter Creek Wildlife Area, West Rocky Prairie Wildlife Area, and all the other scattered remnants of the once widespread prairie/oak woodland plant communities of the southern Puget Trough region. Our geographic range is Thurston and Pierce Counties in Washington State.

We intend to track observations over the course of the next several years to watch for changes in species composition and life stage timing. While our primary interest is in native species, we are also interested in distribution, abundance and status of invasive species, especially any new invasive that may be gaining a foothold in our prairies and oak woodlands.

See details on the Blog post.



For an easier outing: visit the Mima Mounds Natural Area

(Discover Pass Required)


If you wish to take your dogs on a prairie outing, visit the Scatter Creek Wildlife Area

(Discover Pass Required)


For your enjoyment

Here are some images from a Pre-Pandemic Prairie Appreciation Day (2019)


Glacial Heritage Preserve

This 1110 acre site is jointly owned by Thurston County Parks and Recreation and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. It is located in southern Thurston County southwest of the town of Littlerock, WA. It contains four main habitat types: Oregon white oak woodland, prairie grassland, riparian woodlands, and coniferous forest. These habitat types form a unique mosaic crucial to the survival of a wide range of plants and animals. This preserve is a key component in a network of nature preserves helping to conserve one of the rarest ecosystems in Washington–prairie grasslands. It hosts several rare species including the golden paintbrush, white-topped aster, Zerene fritillary, western meadowlark, western bluebird and more.

Mima Mounds Natural Area

Established in 1976, this 637 acre preserve was created to protect rare examples of mima mound landforms and Puget prairie grasslands. It is located just west of Littlerock down Waddell Creek Road. This site includes a Garry oak woodland and savannah which support a wide variety of prairie dependent butterflies and birds. Mima Mounds serves at Prairie Appreciation Day’s ADA accessible site and features a 1/2 mile ADA accessible loop. This is a great stop for those with limited time to enjoy beautiful prairies and mysterious mounds. Group tour are offered at this site. If you are interested in scheduling one on Prairie Appreciation Day, please email

Colvin Ranch

Colvin Ranch is a five generation owned and operated grass fed cattle ranch located near Tenino. This ranch champions in their continued stewardship of the historic prairie lands through sustainable grazing practices that balance native plants to flourish along cattle. As a part of the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, this working cattle ranch is a leader in determining a balance between sustainable cattle grazing with prairie conservation. For Prairie Appreciation Day, this ranch is hosting its annual open house on site. Wagon ride tours through the ranch will occur at 11am, 12:30pm, and 2pm.


Area Maps


Picnic on Prairie Appreciation Day

There is no food available for sale at this event. Plan on bringing your own food and refreshments to any of our event locations. For Littlerock locations, the nearest food and beverage for purchase are located at Hillbilly Beans, Littlerock Tavern, Taqueria La Esquinita, and Chevron gas station.