Wildlife Prairie Park

Wildlife Prairie Park Main HallWildlife Prairie Park: A Hidden Gem for Nature Lovers

Wildlife Prairie Park is located in Hanna City, just 10 miles west of downtown Peoria and is home to 60 different species and over 150 animals native to the Peoria area. Whether you are an animal enthusiast, an avid hiker, or simply someone who loves being surrounded by nature, this is the perfect destination for you.  In this article, we’ll explore the park’s beauty, learn about its rich history, and discover all the amazing things you can see and do during your visit.

Introduction to Wildlife Prairie Park

Wildlife Prairie Park - BisonThis expansive nature reserve is home to a vast array of unique wildlife species and offers a variety of activities and attractions for visitors of all ages.

Wildlife Prairie Park’s History and Mission

Established in 1978, Wildlife Prairie Park was created with the mission of preserving and protecting the natural habitat of native Illinois wildlife species. Since its inception, the park has worked tirelessly to create a sustainable environment for its inhabitants and educate the public on the importance of conservation efforts.  The Park is a not-for-profit 501c3 corporation.

Unique Wildlife Species Found at Wildlife Prairie Park

One of the most intriguing aspects of the park is the vast array of unique wildlife species that call it home. From majestic bison and elusive wolves to playful otters and graceful deer, visitors are sure to be enchanted by the diverse range of animals that can be observed in their natural habitats.

Activities and Attractions at Wildlife Prairie Park

Wildlife Prairie Park - Mountain LionsIn addition to its impressive array of wildlife species, Wildlife Prairie Park offers a variety of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy. Nature enthusiasts can explore the park’s numerous hiking trails, fish in its pristine lakes, or stay overnight in our newly built cabins and the train caboose. The park offers a petting zoo, playground, rides on Prairie Zephyr Train plus educational programs for children, including summer camps and field trips.

Conservation and Education Efforts at Wildlife Prairie Park

At Wildlife Prairie Park, conservation and education are at the forefront of everything they do. The park’s dedicated team of conservationists worktirelessly to maintain a sustainable environment for its inhabitants, while also educating visitors on the importance of preserving and protecting native wildlife species. Through interactive exhibits, educational programs, and community outreach initiatives, park naturalists and animal keepers aim to inspire a love of nature and a commitment to conservation in visitors of all ages.

The History Behind Wildlife Prairie Park
Wildlife Prairie Park - Owl
Nestled in the heart of Illinois sits the 1,800-acre wildlife preserve that is home to a diverse array of native Illinois wildlife, including bison, elk, wolves, and black bears. But the park’s history is just as fascinating as the wildlife that it protects.

The land that Wildlife Prairie Park sits on was once home to the Kickapoo tribe of Native Americans, who lived off of the land and its abundant resources for centuries. In the early 1800s, settlers began to move into the area.  The land was eventually sold to wealthy Peoria area businessman William O. Rutherford.

Rutherford saw the potential of the land as a wildlife preserve, and he began to buy up neighboring farms and properties to create what would eventually become Wildlife Prairie Park. In 1978, the park officially opened to the public, and it has been a beloved destination for nature lovers ever since.

Today, Wildlife Prairie Park is more than just a tourist attraction:  it is a vital part of conservation efforts in Illinois, working to protect and preserve the state’s native wildlife and their habitats. The park’s staff and volunteers work tirelessly to care for the animals, and they are dedicated to educating visitors about the importance of conservation efforts.

Whether you’re a local looking for a fun day trip or a are visitor to Illinois looking to experience the state’s natural beauty, Wildlife Prairie Park is a must-see destination. With activities for visitors of all ages, behind-the-scenes tours, and the chance to see some of Illinois’ most iconic wildlife up close, it’s an experience you won’t forget.

The Different Types of Wildlife You Can See at the Park

Wildlife Prairie Park - FoxesIf you’re a nature lover or an animal enthusiast, you won’t want to miss the chance to visit Wildlife Prairie Park. With over 150 animals (60 different species) who live in the park, it’s a must-visit destination for anyone who loves wildlife.

One of the highlights of the park is the opportunity to get up close and personal with animals such as bison, elk, and wolves on the park’s guided tours. These tours offer a unique chance to see these majestic creatures in their natural habitat and learn about their behavior and environment.

Birdwatchers will also love visiting Wildlife Prairie Park, which is home to a variety of birds, including bald eagles, hawks, and owls. The park offers a unique opportunity to observe these birds in the wild and get a closer look at their incredible physical features.

But the animal encounters don’t stop there. Wildlife Prairie Park offers a variety of educational programs and events for all ages, including summer camps, animal encounters, and outdoor adventure activities. Whether you’re a kid or an adult, there’s always something new and exciting to learn at the park.

In addition to the animal exhibits and educational programs, the park is also a great place to enjoy the natural beauty of the Illinois countryside. The park’s hiking trails offer stunning views of the prairie landscape and are a perfect way to get some fresh air and exercise.

Whether you’re an animal lover, a birdwatcher, or just looking for a fun and educational day out with the family, this park is definitely worth a visit.

Activities and Events at the Park

Activities Wildlife Prairie Park - Deerand events at the Park are truly one-of-a-kind experiences that nature enthusiasts won’t want to miss. With over 1,800 acres of pristine wilderness, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

If you’re looking to explore the great outdoors, the park’s numerous hiking trails are the perfect way to do so. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just looking for a leisurely stroll, the trails offer breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape and opportunities to spot native wildlife.

This isn’t just a place to take a hike. Visitors can also learn about the park’s animal residents through educational exhibits and presentations. From interactive displays to live animal encounters, the park provides a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with some of Illinois’ most fascinating creatures.

Don’t miss Wildlife Scary Park, where the park transforms into a Halloween wonderland complete with haunted trails and spooky surprises around every corner.  And their annual Easter Egg Hunt is a favorite for Peoria area kids every spring.

But perhaps the most important aspect of the park is their commitment to conservation. By volunteering at the park or making a donation to their wildlife rehabilitation center, visitors can support efforts to protect and preserve Illinois’ natural habitats and the animals that call them home.

Plan Your Visit

Park hours are 9 am – 4:30 pm Monday – Sunday.   Admission during the main season (Early May through the end of October) is $12 for ages 13- 64,  $8 for kids aged 3 – 12, $10 for senior citizens aged 65+ and free for kids 2 & under and Park members.  An all day train pass is $6 (2 & under are free).   Admission during the winter months is reduced to $8 for ages 13- 64,  $5 for kids aged 3 – 12, $6 for senior citizens aged 65+ and free for kids 2 & under and Park members.  Park membership is $55 for individuals, $95 for families (2 adults and their children aged 17 and under) and $85 for grandparent memberships (2 adults and their grandchildren aged 17 and under).  There are more options regarding memberships to the Park which are available on their website at https://wildlifeprairiepark.org

Find Peoria area events information on our Peoria Calendar of Events!