Willa Cather Memorial Prairie

category : Nature Preserves
Five miles south of Red Cloud, Nebraska, the Willa Cather Memorial Prairie is a botanical treasure consisting of 608 acres of never-been-plowed native prairie.

The Willa Cather Foundation is returning this land to its pre-1900 conditions, a time before overgrazing and the encroachment of man and foreign plant species. We have estimated that a minimum of 250 plant species exist on the Prairie, including the rare Fremont's evening primrose and Fendler's aster - both candidates for "threatened" status by the Nebraska Natural Heritage Program.

The area is classified as loess, mixed-grass prairie, and is unique in that it brings together species at the southern edge of their range with those at the northern edge of their range.

The transitional location of the Prairie makes it home to several species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates. Two rare species that exist on the land include the Great Plains narrowmouth toad and smooth green snake.

The importance of the prairie in shaping America's art, history, and culture has been lost to much of the world. Of the millions of acres of grasslands that once covered the continent, only a small percentage still remains.

The Willa Cather Memorial Prairie is home to a variety of beautiful
bird species, and is recognized as a Nebraska Bird Site by the Nebraska
Teaming with Wildlife Coalition. On the Prairie, bird watchers can view
meadowlarks, upland plovers, wood ducks, blue-winged teals, bluebirds,
assorted sparrows, grouse, turkeys, orchard orioles, and more.

Nearly two miles of walking and hiking trails are now cut and open for the
public. Nature lovers can enjoy areas of tall grass, short grass, warm season
flowers, shrubbery and more.

Admission: Free
Address: 5 miles south of Red Cloud, Nebraska along U.S. Highway 281
Phone: 866-731-7304
Fax: 402-746-2652
Our Email:

Come visit us in Red Cloud, Nebraska

Attractions and Upcoming Events

Grace Episcopal Church

Built in 1884 on the corner of Second and Walnut, the Grace Protestant Episcopal Church was moved to its present location in 1891. The brick veneer was added sometime after 1922. Grace Episcopal Church is the church in which Willa Cather and her parents were confirmed on December 27, 1922

Red Cloud, NE Historic Churches

The Red Cloud Opera House

The Red Cloud Opera House, 1885, stood for many years as the jewel in Main Street's crown. Here Blind Boone played, William Jennings Bryan spoke, and it was from this stage that Willa Cather graduated in 1890 and delivered her eloquent oration, "Superstition vs. Investigation"

Red Cloud, NE Historic Buildings

Starke Round Barn

Nebraska's largest round barn and one of the nation's largest, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in April 1972, and is still in use today. It was built in 1902-3

Red Cloud, NE Historic Buildings

Red Cloud Post Office Murals

One of only twelve public buildings in the state of Nebraska which commissioned murals for its lobby, Red Cloud Post Office houses three works by the western artist, Archie Musick, 1941.

Red Cloud, NE Arts

The Methodist Church

[The Methodist Church] The Methodist Church building described in My Antonia , now serves as a Masonic Lodge. Cather tells how, during the winter, the children were starved for color and how they stood in the cold and looked at the stained glass windows: "

Red Cloud, NE Historic Churches

Things to do Nature Preserves near Red Cloud, NE

Willa Cather Memorial Prairie

Five miles south of Red Cloud, Nebraska, the Willa Cather Memorial Prairie is a botanical treasure consisting of 608 acres of...