Welcome to the Decorah Prairie & Butterfly Garden

Explorers and pioneers described their first views of the prairies of the middle United States, before they became states--using words such as "abundant," "luxurious," "magnificent," "gorgeous masses of variant beauty," and birds singing "their songs of jubilee." They reported seeing fox, wolves, reptiles, and badgers roaming free. If we investigate the plants and animals of the prairie, we might reveal the connections between the creatures and this amazing habitat.

When the Decorah Community Prairie was planted in 2002, initially to protect the water quality of the Upper Iowa River, an additional $15,000 was donated to the City of Decorah to establish a butterfly garden. The butterfly garden was created to introduce visitors to the native plants of the prairie, to provide a place of enjoyment, and to help preserve our native butterflies and other pollinators who through the ages have required specific native plants. This prairie garden provides a quiet wildness within the center of the city. Its paved walkway and benches offer access for the elderly, disabled, and small children.

Decorah Community Prairie Butterfly Garden Brochure for 2018 (printable pdf)

Please note: Volunteers will now work on Tuesday mornings from 9-11am (May to October) to maintain the Butterfly Garden. Or you can sign up to Adopt-a-Plant and be responsible to maintain one specimen area on your own time schedule.

Join us! Bring your tools and a water bottle.

If you have would like to volunteer or have questions, contact Jerri Osenga.


Burr Oak on the Prairie. Photo by Ellen Macdonald

The Community Prairie paths are wide and flat with mown grass. The area is shared by hikers, bikers, runners, skiers, snowshoers and folks with dogs on leash. Dog mitts are provided. The Butterfly Garden offers a sun/rain shelter with picnic tables and benches. It has paved walkway loops through the Garden to make it wheelchair and baby stroller accessible.

Monarch on Goldenrod in the Prairie. Photo by Ellen Macdonald

A wide range of insects live in the Prairie and the Butterfly Garden.

More info...

Winter in the Prairie. Photo by Ellen Macdonald

When there is sufficient snow, Decorah Park and Rec staff will pack a ski track on the Prairie paths. Walkers and snow-shoers are asked to avoid walking in the parallel packed track at the edge of the path used by cross-country skiers.

Photo by Mary Glock