Sand Coulee Scientific & Natural Area

Experience the flowing grasses and native blooms of the original prairie that once covered much of Minnesota at the Sand Coulee Scientific & Natural Area. At over 267 acres, the Coulee offers ample space to explore — prairie, woodlands and forest — as well as excellent birdwatching opportunities.  

This highly protected public area takes its name from the Hastings Sand Coulee, a 2.5 mile-long valley once occupied by a glacial stream. The coulee is home a to “dry prairie” that supports many beloved and rare plants, birds and other wildlife — such as regal fritillary butterfly, Ottoe skipper, gopher snake, blue racer and loggerhead shrike.

Fall is an especially popular time to visit the Coulee, when many native prairie plants are in full bloom. It's a hotspot for birders year-round (bird species list).

Surrounded by agricultural land and housing developments, the Coulee SNA is an oasis of habitat. Due to its significance and highly protected status, there are no trails or facilities beyond small parking lots.

The scenic slopes and ravines of the coulee are very vulnerable to erosion. Please take care to avoid damage to the slopes when visiting. Please also take care to avoid the accidental introduction of invasive species via your car, shoes or clothing. 

A maintained snowmobile trail passes through the site, see detail map

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Latitude: 44.693751 Longitude: -92.818195 Elevation: 821 ft
the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
Sue Rich

Recreational Opportunities

  • Hiking
  • Photography
  • Snowshoeing

Seasons Accessible




Accessibility Notes

There are multiple parking lots and access points. The two primary spots are indicated on the map. 


Pet Friendly Notes

No dogs allowed.

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