Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park

Two volunteers at Ravine Lake

A forested valley with 100-foot high slopes runs into Ravine Lake at this 515-acre park. We’ve been managing oak savanna and prairie habitat restoration here since 2012. (Photo: Karen Schik)

Where is Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park?

This Washington County park is in southern Cottage Grove just off Keats Avenue. Our restoration work here is part of a larger partnership effort with Washington County Parks to protect and preserve a natural green corridor for our waters, our wildlife and our heritage.

That corridor includes over 600 acres of natural area directly south of and adjacent to the Mississippi River surrounding 3M's Cottage Grove facility, where FMR has been restoring habitat for over 15 years. FMR’s riverfront restoration work at River Oaks Park is just a few miles downstream.

The public is welcome to visit Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park. Daily or annual park passes are required. (See Washington County Parks website for more info.)

Our work here takes place on Dakota homelands. Learn more.

What’s special about Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park?

Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park is a beautifully diverse landscape consisting of 515 acres of hills and heavily wooded ravines, a lake and scattered prairie pockets. The park’s varied topography creates a variety of sun exposures and temperature gradients, encouraging diverse plants and habitats. Two rare species — Blanding's turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) and kittentail (Besseya bullii) —  have been recorded at the project area.

The park is predominantly a buried glacial tunnel valley formed when melting water flowed under the ice sheet during the Wisconsin Glaciation. The half-mile-wide ravine for which the park is named boasts 80- to 100-foot slopes and runs into Ravine Lake.

A pleasant place to fish, the lake holds walleye and largemouth bass. From its shores, birdwatchers spot herons, egrets, hawks and eagles. Additionally, Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park offers hiking trails, paved trails, cross-country ski trails and a play area, and will soon have a new year-round shelter with restrooms, all of which engage a number of park users throughout the year.

The park's dramatic natural features play an important role in water quality, helping to filter pollution from post-rainstorm runoff that would otherwise enter the Mississippi River.

Our work at Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park

In 2012, Friends of the Mississippi River completed a natural resource management plan for the southern half of the park. Soon after, we began work to restore the park to a more healthy and self-sustaining condition.

Historically, the slopes at Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park were covered by oak savanna, with oak woodland in the sheltered ravines.

However, invasive plant species at the park have outcompeted native plants for nutrients, light and space. Wildlife struggle to adapt to this degraded habitat. We’re removing invasive species of concern including: buckthorn, black locust, garlic mustard, honeysuckle, Kentucky bluegrass, reed canary grass and smooth brome. We’re also restoring some areas to oak savanna and prairie. Volunteers support the ongoing work at this breathtaking site.

Find out more and get involved

  • Volunteer with us to restore places like this or join the South Washington County stewards. If you'd like to be notified of upcoming volunteer events in or near Cottage Grove Ravine Park please let us know! Contact Sophie Downey at sdowney@fmr.org, 651-222-2193 x27.
  • Contact project lead FMR senior ecologist Karen Schik.

Child volunteering

Partners and funders for our work at Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park

This work is made possible by Washington County Parks, the Outdoor Heritage Fund, 3M Foundation, South Washington Watershed District, and by our generous donors like you!