Santee Prairie SNA






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Mima mounds are natural, low, flattened, dome-like mounds. Mima mounds occur worldwide but not all have the same origin. The mima mounds of northwestern Minnesota and the Upper Midwest occur entirely within the range of the pocket gopher, and on sites where vertical burrowing cannot occur.






Printable Map(s) with GPS coordinates

  Printable map      



449 acres




The parking area shown on the Minnesota DNR Web page for this site is inaccessible by car. It is at the end of a DNR public road. However, there are two gates across this road. The first is at the start of the road near the intersection of Township Road 184 (170th St.) and 150th Ave. On two recent trips (August, 2013 and August, 2016) the gate was unlocked. On two previous trips (August and September, 2011) the gate was locked. The second gate is 0.7 mile east on the DNR road. During four visits to the SNA over five years this gate has never been unlocked.

If the first gate is locked, park on the south side of the DNR road near the gate, being careful to avoid blocking the gate. Hike east on the two-track road one mile to the SNA boundary marker.

First Gate
N47 23.881, W95 57.287

If the first gate is unlocked, drive east on the DNR road ½ mile to the Wambach WMA parking lot. Park here and walk ½ mile east to the SNA boundary marker.

Wambach WMA Parking Lot
N47 23.881, W95 57.569

The wood sign for this SNA is at the east boundary bordering 170th Ave. There is no parking area near this sign.


Driving Directions

  Area and County  

Get driving directions from Google Maps to this destination from any address, and send those directions to your phone.

          Mahnomen County  
          Northwest Minnesota  

Hiking Trails


No maintained trails




All hunting. See Hunting and Trapping Regulations (MN DNR) for details.


Ecological Classification

  Ecological Classification  
  Ecological Province    

Prairie Parkland Province

  Ecological Section    

Red River Valley

  Ecological Subsection    

Red River Prairie

  Land Type Association    

Flom Till Plain


Native Plant Communities*


Mesic Prairie (Northern)

Northern Mixed Cattail Marsh

Northern Wet Prairie

Prairie Wetland Complex

Willow - Dogwood Shrub Swamp

  * Source: The Minnesota Biological Survey, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Ecological Resources      

Natural Features









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… when the first gate is locked (2011)

  Santee Prairie SNA  

… when the first gate is unlocked (2013)

        Santee Prairie SNA  


… when the first gate is locked (2011)

  Santee Prairie SNA  

… when the first gate is unlocked (2013)

  Santee Prairie SNA  
        Santee Prairie SNA  

Second gate

The second gate …

  Santee Prairie SNA  

… is always locked.

  Santee Prairie SNA  

Wood routed sign


  Santee Prairie SNA  


  Santee Prairie SNA  

West entrance

    Santee Prairie SNA   Santee Prairie SNA  

Mima Mounds

    Santee Prairie SNA   Santee Prairie SNA  
    Santee Prairie SNA   Santee Prairie SNA  

Mesic Prairie (Northern)

    Santee Prairie SNA   Santee Prairie SNA  
    Santee Prairie SNA   Santee Prairie SNA  

Northern Wet Prairie

    Santee Prairie SNA   Santee Prairie SNA  

Prairie Wetland Complex

    Santee Prairie SNA   Santee Prairie SNA  



























































Mima Mounds

Mima mounds are natural, low, flattened, dome-like mounds. They occur worldwide but not all mima mounds have the same origin. The mima mounds of northwestern Minnesota and the Upper Midwest occur entirely within the range of the pocket gopher, and on sites where vertical burrowing is not possible.




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  northern leopard frog (Rana pipiens)   northern leopard frog  



Five bird species with conservation status in Minnesota have been seen here:


Henslow’s Sparrow (Centronyx henslowii)


Wilson’s Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor)

Special Concern

Greater Prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus cupido)

Franklin’s Gull (Leucophaeus pipixcan)

Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa)


Minnesota DNR Bird checklist

eBird Field Checklist


American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)

Clay-colored Sparrow (Spizella pallida)

Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)

Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)

Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus)

Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)

Great Egret (Ardea alba)

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)

Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius)

Sandhill Crane (Antigone canadensis)

Upland Sandpiper (Bartramia longicauda)

Vesper Sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus)

Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius)


American Goldfinch

Gray Catbird

Northern Flicker

Sandhill Crane


Insects and Arachnids


One insect and arachnid species with conservation status in Minnesota has been seen here:


Poweshiek skipperling (Oarisma poweshiek)


Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas Insects List


American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis)

autumn meadowhawk (Sympetrum vicinum)

cabbage white (Pieris rapae)

Carolina grasshopper (Dissosteira carolina)

common green darner (Anax junius)

common wood nymph (Cercyonis pegala)

eastern pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis)

goldenrod gall fly (Eurosta solidaginis)

great spangled fritillary (Argynnis cybele)

monarch (Danaus plexippus)

orange sulphur (Colias eurytheme)

saffron-winged meadowhawk (Sympetrum costiferum)

sword-bearing conehead (Neoconocephalus ensiger)

twelve-spotted skimmer (Libellula pulchella)


Carolina grasshopper

common green darner

eastern pondhawk

twelve-spotted skimmer




Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas Mammals List


plains pocket gopher (Geomys bursarius)

thirteen-lined ground squirrel (Ictidomys tridecemlineatus)

whitetail deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

  whitetail deer  



Two plant species with conservation status in Minnesota are found here:

Special Concern

deer sedge (Carex hallii)

small white lady’s slipper (Cypripedium candidum)


Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas and Minnesota Biological Survey Vegetation Releves Plant List


Plants frequently found in:

Mesic Prairie (Northern) UPn23b

Northern Mixed Cattail Marsh MRn83

Northern Wet Prairie WPn53

Willow - Dogwood Shrub Swamp WMn82a



absinthe wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)

American black currant (Ribes americanum)

American sloughgrass (Beckmannia syzigachne)

American stinging nettle (Urtica gracilis ssp. gracilis)

arctic brome (Bromus kalmii)

balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera)

Baltic rush (Juncus balticus var. littoralis)

bearded wheatgrass (Elymus trachycaulus ssp. subsecundus)

Bebb’s willow (Salix bebbiana)

big bluestem (Andropogon gerardi)

bird’s-foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus var. corniculatus)

black medick (Medicago lupulina)

black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima)

bog willowherb (Epilobium leptophyllum)

bottle gentian (Gentiana andrewsii)

Buxbaum’s sedge (Carex buxbaumii)

Canada bluegrass (Poa compressa)

Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense)

Canadian milkvetch (Astragalus canadensis var. canadensis)

candle anemone (Anemone cylindrica)

common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale ssp. officinale)

common lambsquarters (Chenopodium album)

common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia)

common rivergrass (Scolochloa festucacea)

common sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale)

Culver’s root (Veronicastrum virginicum)

curly dock (Rumex crispus)

dotted blazing star (Liatris punctata var. punctata)

downy phlox (Phlox pilosa ssp. fulgida)

dwarf false indigo (Amorpha nana)

falsegold groundsel (Packera pseudaurea var. semicordata)

fen grass of Parnassus (Parnassia glauca)

fiddleleaf hawksbeard (Crepis runcinata ssp. runcinata)

field horsetail (Equisetum arvense)

field sagewort (Artemisia campestris ssp. caudata)

flat-topped aster (Doellingeria umbellata)

Flodman’s thistle (Cirsium flodmanii)

four-flowered yellow loosestrife (Lysimachia quadriflora)

fowl bluegrass (Poa palustris)

foxtail barley (Hordeum jubatum ssp. jubatum)

fringed brome (Bromus ciliatus)

fringed loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata)

giant goldenrod (Solidago gigantea)

giant sunflower (Helianthus giganteus)

golden alexanders (Zizia aurea)

grass-leaved goldenrod (Euthamia graminifolia)

gray goldenrod (Solidago nemoralis)

great water dock (Rumex britannica)

greater fringed gentian (Gentianopsis crinita)

giant sunflower (Helianthus giganteus)

hairy four o’clock (Mirabilis albida)

harebell (Campanula rotundifolia)

heart-leaved golden alexanders (Zizia aptera)

Indian hemp (Apocynum cannabinum)

Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans)

June grass (Koeleria macrantha)

Kalm’s lobelia (Lobelia kalmii)

Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis ssp. pratensis)

late goldenrod (Solidago altissima)

leadplant (Amorpha canescens)

Leiberg’s panic grass (Dichanthelium leibergii)

lesser fringed gentian (Gentianopsis virgata)

little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)

Loesel’s twayblade (Liparis loeselii)

marsh bellflower (Campanula aparinoides)

marsh muhly (Muhlenbergia racemosa)

marsh vetchling (Lathyrus palustris)

mat muhly (Muhlenbergia richardsonis)

Maximilian’s sunflower (Helianthus maximiliani)

mint-leaved bergamot (Monarda fistulosa var. menthifolia)

mountain death camas (Anticlea elegans var. elegans)

narrow-leaved cattail (Typha angustifolia)

narrow-leaved hawkweed (Hieracium umbellatum)

narrow-leaved meadowsweet (Spiraea alba var. alba)

narrow-leaved purple coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia)

New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)

northern bedstraw (Galium boreale)

northern bog violet (Viola nephrophylla)

northern plains blazing star (Liatris ligulistylis)

pale agoseris (Agoseris glauca var. glauca)

palespike lobelia (Lobelia spicata)

panicled aster (Symphyotrichum lanceolatum)

perennial sow thistle (Sonchus arvensis)

plains cottonwood (Populus deltoides ssp. molinifera)

plumeless thistle (Carduus acanthoides ssp. acanthoides)

porcupine grass (Hesperostipa spartea)

prairie blazing star (Liatris pycnostachya var. pycnostachya)

prairie cordgrass (Sporobolus michauxianus)

prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis)

prairie fleabane (Erigeron strigosus)

prairie goldenrod (Solidago ptarmicoides)

prairie onion (Allium stellatum)

prairie rose (Rosa arkansana)

prairie turnip (Pediomelum esculentum)

prairie willow (Salix humilis var. tristis)

purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)

purple meadow-rue (Thalictrum dasycarpum)

purple prairie clover (Dalea purpurea var. purpurea)

purple rattlesnake root (Nabalus racemosus)

pussy willow (Salix discolor)

quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides)

red osier dogwood (Cornus sericea ssp. sericea)

redtop (Agrostis gigantea)

reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea)

rough barnyard grass (Echinochloa muricata)

rough blazing star (Liatris aspera)

rough bugleweed (Lycopus asper)

rush skeletonplant (Lygodesmia juncea)

sandbar willow (Salix interior)

Sartwell’s sedge (Carex sartwellii)

showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa)

Siberian elm (Ulmus pumila)

silverberry (Elaeagnus commutata)

silverleaf scurfpea (Pediomelum argophyllum)

silverweed (Argentina anserina ssp. anserina)

slender willow (Salix petiolaris)

slim-stem reedgrass (Calamagrostis stricta)

smooth oxeye (Heliopsis helianthoides var. scabra)

smooth scouring rush (Equisetum laevigatum)

soft-stem bulrush (Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani)

spiked muhly (Muhlenbergia glomerata)

spotted water hemlock (Cicuta maculata)

sticky false asphodel (Triantha glutinosa)

stiff goldenrod (Solidago rigida ssp. rigida)

stiff sunflower (Helianthus pauciflorus)

swamp betony (Pedicularis lanceolata)

swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata ssp. incarnata)

swamp thistle (Cirsium muticum)

tall beggarticks (Bidens vulgata)

tall cottongrass (Eriophorum angustifolium ssp. angustifolium)

timothy (Phleum pratense ssp. pratense)

Virginia mountain mint (Pycnanthemum virginianum)

water smartweed (Persicaria amphibia)

white heath aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides var. ericoides)

white prairie clover (Dalea candida var. candida)

white sage (Artemisia ludoviciana ssp. ludoviciana)

white sweet clover (Melilotus albus)

wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa var. fistulosa)

wild licorice (Glycyrrhiza lepidota)

wild mint (Mentha arvensis)

wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana)

wolfberry (Symphoricarpos occidentalis)

wood betony (Pedicularis canadensis ssp. canadensis)

wood lily (Lilium philadelphicum var. andinum)

woolly sedge (Carex pellita)

yellow foxtail (Setaria pumila ssp. pumila)

yellow goat’s beard (Tragopogon dubius)

yellow sweet clover (Melilotus officinalis)


Agoseris glauca var. glauca (pale agoseris)

Agrostis gigantea (redtop)

Allium stellatum (prairie onion)

Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed)

Amorpha canescens (leadplant)

Amorpha nana (dwarf false indigo)

Andropogon gerardi (big bluestem)

Anemone cylindrica (candle anemone)

Anticlea elegans var. elegans (mountain death camas)

Apocynum cannabinum (Indian hemp)

Argentina anserina ssp. anserina (silverweed)

Artemisia absinthium (absinthe wormwood)

Artemisia campestris ssp. caudata (field sagewort)

Artemisia ludoviciana ssp. ludoviciana (white sage)

Asclepias incarnata ssp. incarnata (swamp milkweed)

Asclepias speciosa (showy milkweed)

Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed)

Astragalus canadensis var. canadensis (Canadian milkvetch)

Beckmannia syzigachne (American sloughgrass)

Bidens vulgata (tall beggarticks)

Bromus ciliatus (fringed brome)

Bromus kalmii (arctic brome)

Calamagrostis stricta (slim-stem reedgrass)

Campanula aparinoides (marsh bellflower)

Campanula rotundifolia (harebell)

Carduus acanthoides (plumeless thistle)

Carex buxbaumii (Buxbaum’s sedge)

Carex pellita (woolly sedge)

Carex sartwellii (Sartwell’s sedge)

Chenopodium album (common lambsquarters)

Cicuta maculata (spotted water hemlock)

Cirsium arvense (Canada thistle)

Cirsium flodmanii (Flodman’s thistle)

Cirsium muticum (swamp thistle)

Cornus sericea ssp. sericea (red osier dogwood)

Crepis runcinata ssp. runcinata (fiddleleaf hawksbeard)

Dalea candida var. candida (white prairie clover)

Dalea purpurea var. purpurea (purple prairie clover)

Dichanthelium leibergii (Leiberg’s panic grass)

Doellingeria umbellata (flat-topped aster)

Echinacea angustifolia (narrow-leaved purple coneflower)

Echinochloa muricata (rough barnyard grass)

Elaeagnus commutata (silverberry)

Elymus trachycaulus ssp. subsecundus (bearded wheatgrass)

Epilobium leptophyllum (bog willowherb)

Equisetum arvense (field horsetail)

Equisetum laevigatum (smooth scouring rush)

Erigeron strigosus (prairie fleabane)

Eriophorum angustifolium ssp. angustifolium (tall cottongrass)

Euthamia graminifolia (grass-leaved goldenrod)

Fragaria virginiana (wild strawberry)

Galium boreale (northern bedstraw)

Gentiana andrewsii (bottle gentian)

Gentianopsis crinita (greater fringed gentian)

Gentianopsis virgata (lesser fringed gentian)

Glycyrrhiza lepidota (wild licorice)

Helenium autumnale (common sneezeweed)

Helianthus giganteus (giant sunflower)

Helianthus giganteus (giant sunflower)

Helianthus maximiliani (Maximilian’s sunflower)

Helianthus pauciflorus (stiff sunflower)

Heliopsis helianthoides var. scabra (smooth oxeye)

Hesperostipa spartea (porcupine grass)

Hieracium umbellatum (narrow-leaved hawkweed)

Hordeum jubatum ssp. jubatum (foxtail barley)

Juncus balticus var. littoralis (Baltic rush)

Koeleria macrantha (June grass)

Lathyrus palustris (marsh vetchling)

Liatris aspera (rough blazing star)

Liatris ligulistylis (northern plains blazing star)

Liatris punctata var. punctata (dotted blazing star)

Liatris pycnostachya var. pycnostachya (prairie blazing star)

Lilium philadelphicum var. andinum (wood lily)

Liparis loeselii (Loesel’s twayblade)

Lobelia kalmii (Kalm’s lobelia)

Lobelia spicata (palespike lobelia)

Lotus corniculatus var. corniculatus (bird’s-foot trefoil)

Lycopus asper (rough bugleweed)

Lygodesmia juncea (rush skeletonplant)

Lysimachia ciliata (fringed loosestrife)

Lysimachia quadriflora (four-flowered yellow loosestrife)

Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife)

Medicago lupulina (black medick)

Melilotus albus (white sweet clover)

Melilotus officinalis (yellow sweet clover)

Mentha arvensis (wild mint)

Mirabilis albida (hairy four o’clock)

Monarda fistulosa var. fistulosa (wild bergamot)

Monarda fistulosa var. menthifolia (mint-leaved bergamot)

Muhlenbergia glomerata (spiked muhly)

Muhlenbergia racemosa (maidenhair spleenwort)

Muhlenbergia richardsonis (mat muhly)

Nabalus racemosus (purple rattlesnake root)

Packera pseudaurea var. semicordata (falsegold groundsel)

Parnassia glauca (fen grass of Parnassus)

Pedicularis canadensis ssp. canadensis (wood betony)

Pedicularis lanceolata (swamp betony)

Pediomelum argophyllum (silverleaf scurfpea)

Pediomelum esculentum (prairie turnip)

Persicaria amphibia (water smartweed)

Phalaris arundinacea (reed canary grass)

Phleum pratense ssp. pratense (timothy)

Phlox pilosa ssp. fulgida (downy phlox)

Poa compressa (Canada bluegrass)

Poa palustris (fowl bluegrass)

Poa pratensis ssp. pratensis (Kentucky bluegrass)

Populus balsamifera (balsam poplar)

Populus deltoides ssp. molinifera (plains cottonwood)

Populus tremuloides (quaking aspen)

Pycnanthemum virginianum (Virginia mountain mint)

Ribes americanum (American black currant)

Rosa arkansana (prairie rose)

Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima (black-eyed Susan)

Rumex britannica (great water dock)

Rumex crispus (curly dock)

Salix bebbiana (Bebb’s willow)

Salix discolor (pussy willow)

Salix humilis var. tristis (prairie willow)

Salix interior (sandbar willow)

Salix petiolaris (slender willow)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani (soft-stem bulrush)

Scolochloa festucacea (common rivergrass)

Setaria pumila ssp. pumila (yellow foxtail)

Solidago altissima (late goldenrod)

Solidago gigantea (giant goldenrod)

Solidago nemoralis (gray goldenrod)

Solidago ptarmicoides (prairie goldenrod)

Solidago rigida ssp. rigida (stiff goldenrod)

Sonchus arvensis (perennial sow thistle)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

Spiraea alba var. alba (narrow-leaved meadowsweet)

Sporobolus heterolepis (prairie dropseed)

Sporobolus michauxianus (prairie cordgrass)

Symphoricarpos occidentalis (wolfberry)

Symphyotrichum ericoides var. ericoides (white heath aster)

Symphyotrichum lanceolatum (panicled aster)

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England aster)

Taraxacum officinale ssp. officinale (common dandelion)

Thalictrum dasycarpum (purple meadow-rue)

Tragopogon dubius (yellow goat’s beard)

Triantha glutinosa (sticky false asphodel)

Typha angustifolia (narrow-leaved cattail)

Ulmus pumila (Siberian elm)

Urtica gracilis ssp. gracilis (American stinging nettle)

Veronicastrum virginicum (Culver’s root)

Viola nephrophylla (northern bog violet)

Zizia aptera (heart-leaved golden alexanders)

Zizia aurea (golden alexanders)


absinthe wormwood

American black currant

bird’s-foot trefoil

black-eyed Susan

bottle gentian

Canadian milkvetch

common sneezeweed

Culver’s root

dotted blazing star

downy phlox

fringed loosestrife

golden alexanders

greater fringed gentian



lesser fringed gentian (ssp. virgata)

Maximilian’s sunflower

mountain death camas (var. elegans)

New England aster

northern bedstraw

pale agoseris

palespike lobelia (var. spicata)

prairie onion

prairie rose

purple prairie clover

red osier dogwood

showy milkweed


silverleaf scurfpea

spotted water hemlock

swamp milkweed

swamp thistle

Virginia mountain mint

white prairie clover

wild mint

wild strawberry

wood betony

wood lily







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