R.T.A. Conservation Area

This morning we visited the Richard T. Anderson Conservation Area, on the Minnesota River Bluffs in Eden Prairie. It is at the southwestern most corner of the city, accessible off Flying Cloud Drive. We walked along the Elizabeth Fries Ellet Interpretive Trail, which features interpretive signs that teach about the ecology as well as the literary history of the writer who gave Eden Prairie its name.

A unique feature of this site is the range of plant communities, ranging from lowland hardwood forest and sedge meadow at the lowest elevations, to maple-basswood forest, oak savanna, and dry prairie as you move up the bluffs. The walk to the top of the 200′ bluffs is well worth it, as the panoramic view is SPECTACULAR! This is truly a hidden gem for wildflower and nature lovers.

There is a fountain fed by ice-cold spring water that comes out of the bluffs, which local residents visit to fill up empty water containers. My son had a great time drinking, splashing, and playing in the water.

We were hoping to see more spring ephemeral wildflowers in the maple-basswood forest, however this year’s late spring seemed to have kept most of what we wanted to see hidden for now. We did see a small amount of bloodroot and wild ginger. In past years, I have seen a lot of dutchman’s breeches here but did not see any today. I saw more trillium (Trillium cernuum) in the woods than I have ever seen in past years, though none was in bloom yet. We also saw anemone, virginia waterleaf, and

I didn’t see any wild turkeys in the woods like I usually do, but did see several species of warblers and snuck up on a green heron in the meadow. A big highlight was seeing the marsh marigold (Caltha palustris) in glorious full bloom. All the bright yellow makes a cool, sunny day feel warmer!

More of my photos in the Mn NPS Photo Album.

It looks like some other folks had more luck finding the spring ephemeral wildflowers this week at RTACA than I did (they must not have been distracted by a two-year old!).

Happy wildflower hunting!!!
Sean

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2 Responses to R.T.A. Conservation Area

  1. Anonymous says:

    hey Sean, thanks for posting pictures of your tromps. I think you first picture from Eden Prairie on Picassa is Acer negundo, rather than black willow. Hope to see you on a trip sometime. JH

  2. MnNPS says:

    I think you’re right on the tree identification. Good catch!
    Sean

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