Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center is a regional center for environmental education and outdoor recreation located in beautiful Kandiyohi County in west central Minnesota. We provide an exciting array of hands-on learning adventures for all ages, as well as beautiful facilities for meetings and special events. Give us a call and let us customize a program or event for your group 320-354-5894.
We offer customized programs and facilities that help people learn to live well with self, others and the environment.
*Environmental Education programs for pre-K thru grade 12 and adults
*Challenge course and team building programs for schools, athletic teams, youth groups, families and corporate groups
*A 500 acre campus featuring: rolling glacial terrain, seven miles of hiking and cross country ski trails, prairie, woods and wetlands.
*Great classroom and meeting spaces powered by wind, solar & biomass.
*Outreach programs featuring a 34′ voyageur canoe, 26′ portable climbing wall, and “Lorax” puppet show.
*An award winning YES! program which is mobilizing youth-led energy action projects across Greater Minnesota.
Prairie Woods’ site encompasses 500 acres and includes:
- An education building with 5 classrooms, a trail head and a 30-foot indoor climbing wall.
- A pavilion which is a 45×80 3 season-enclosable space.
- The Gary Westby Observatory building sits atop Prairie Wood’s highest hill.
- Several beautiful spaces are available for meetings, family reunions, holiday gatherings, and weddings.
- Also onsite is the Gary Westby Educational Shooting Sports Range.
Call 24 hours in advance to rent fat tire bikes, kayaks, canoes, cross country ski’s, snowshoes and kicksleds for a minimal fee. Click here for a trail map.
We now have 4 different size fat tire bikes and 3 different size helmets, which means we can accommodate almost anyone. Call to set up a reservation to rent and ride on our 4 miles of off road trails.
Click here for Membership
Prairie Woods maintains approximately 10km of trails over rolling glacial terrain, through woods, and prairies, near ponds and wetlands. The trail network covers much of PWELC’s 500 acres.
*Trails are open for walking and hiking during daylight hours Spring, Summer & Fall.
*Trails are groomed for cross-country skiing during the winter.
*Please do not walk or snowshoe on groomed xc ski trails.
Dogs are not allowed on groomed ski trails. Dogs must be in close control of their handlers and kept on a leash. Dogs are not allowed n buildings, with exception of service dogs.
Equipment may be taken off-site (except for kicksleds). Other groomed trails within 10-15 minutes of Prairie Woods include Sibley State Park to the north and Robbins Island and Swan Lake Trails to the south in Willmar.
Note: These hours apply when snow conditions on trails accommodate skiing.
Saturdays: 9 am to 5 pm.
Sundays: 12 pm to 5 pm.
Weekdays: typically 8:30 am to 4 pm. Please call ahead to confirm staff will be onsite 320-354-5894.
A get-away for local companies or a central location for state-wide organizations, Prairie Woods ELC offers meeting spaces to accommodate a variety of group sizes up to 300. The Earl B. Olson West Addition, Prairie Woods Pavilion, Westby Observatory, Linder Treehouse and Red Barn are all beautiful settings for productive meetings. Spice up your gathering with activities like sporting clays, challenge course programs, team-building games, canoeing, archery or other adventure activities customized for the interests, abilities and objectives of your group.
History of Prairie Woods
More than 12,000 years ago, the most recent glacier receded to reveal dramatic ridges and wetland-rich lowlands on this land. For thousands of years, Native American people found their livelihood among the shifting forests, prairies, and wetlands here.
Anders Danielson and his family settled this land when they arrived from Sweden in 1871. Until the late 1980s, most of the land belonging to Prairie Woods was farmed by the Danielson family.
The land was sold to Kandiyohi County by the Danielson family. Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center was founded in 1992.
The farmsite is still present, with a barn, granary, and farm house. Many bur oak trees on the property are more than 100 years old. A renovated log cabin also sits near the farmsite in the exact location where the Danielson family built their first log home, prior to building the frame house.