Retzer Nature Center

Updated: 1/9/2015 10:02:38 AM


Retzer Nature Center was John and Florence Retzer’s retirement home. John purchased the original 90 acres from the Federal Land Bank in 1938. The Retzer’s immediately began restoring the degraded land with over 26,000 trees, shrubs, and flowers, many obtained from the Wisconsin Conservation Department. These plantings can be enjoyed today. In 1973, Florence Horn Retzer bequeathed her property to Waukesha County for park purposes. Her vision was "to conserve the scenery, natural life and wildlife, leaving the land unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations." 

Guided by Mrs. Retzer’s wishes, the Waukesha County Park System began developing a nature center in 1974. Significant land acquisitions in 1980 and 1984 expanded the site to 335 acres. The Nature Center focuses on environmental education, natural land management, community restoration, and wildlife habitat improvement. Today restored prairies, a colorful butterfly and rain garden, and an oak opening demonstration area greet visitors and compliment the Retzer’s original homestead. The Retzer Environmental Learning Center and Charles Z. Horwitz Planetarium addition opened in May of 2005.

Retzer Logo

Rules & Regulations

  • -  Please stay on established trails.
  • -  Wildlife is easily stressed, do not disturb dens or nests.
  • -  Please respect the grounds by leaving plant and other natural materials for others to enjoy.
       Removal of plant material with naturalists permission only.
  • -  Sorry, bicycles are not allowed on Nature Center lands or trails.
  • -  Please park bicycles in bike racks.
  • -  Dogs, pets, or horses are not allowed.
  • -  Fires and alcoholic beverages are not allowed.
  • -  No hunting, shooting, or littering.
  • -  Please be considerate of other visitors.
    Retzer Nature Center Programs & Activities
    (For registration and more info, visit our event calendar)

    January 31 - Saturday Explorations "Winter Wildlife on Snowshoes"
    February 7 - Friends of Retzer Nature Center's Wild Winter Night 
    February 9 - Nature Explorers Ages 5-7 "Wild Bird Feeders" 
    February 10 - Wee Wonders Ages 2-4 "The Red Mitten"
    February 14 - Saturday Explorations "Winter Wildlife on Snowshoes"
    Feburary 21 - Saturday Explorations "Winter Wildlife on Snowshoes"
    February 28 - Saturday Explorations "Winter Wildlife on Snowshoes"

    Park / Expo Events

    February 6-7 - Winter WADA Antiques 2 day Show & Sale - Expo
    February 8 Special Olympics Polar Plunge - Muskego Park
    February 14Waukesha Kennel Club B-O-B Dog Match & Vet Clinic- Expo
    February 14 - Ice Fishing Clinic For Kids - Menomonee Park, Fox Brook Park
    February 14 - Wisconsin Winter Trail Assail - Ski, Snowshoe, Fat Bike races - Nashotah Park 
    February 15 - 4H Horse Associations Annual Tack Sale - Expo
    February 20-21 - Milwaukee Rumble - Expo
    February 27-28, March 1 - Hometown Publications' Home, Garden, and Landscape Show - Expo



    Support our nature programs while taking a memory of Retzer home with you. You’ll find the perfect gift for everyone on your gift giving lists.

    The Retzer Nature Center has a wonderful Gift & Book Store full of unique items including: bird feeders, stationary, children’s books, adult books, novelties and many creative gift ideas.

    Call (262) 896-8007 for information.


    The Waukesha County Park System’s Nature Program, housed at the Retzer Nature Center, is recognized statewide for its ecological orientation and experience in applied research on prairie plantings and restoration. Over the 24-year history of the Nature Program, we have established prairie nurseries and restoration plantings at Retzer Nature Center and in many of the other parks within the Waukesha County Park System.

    Today, we are able to offer to the public the same high quality native plant material used by Retzer Nature Center for use in school, business, and private plantings. The Nature Program has prairie nurseries and restoration areas at the Retzer Nature Center, Mukwonago Park, Nashotah Park, and Ryan property. These facilities have native plant seeds and transplants available to the public.

    Learn how to control invasive species with our "Weeding the Way" manual.

    Retzer Nature Center Native Plant Guide
    Call (262) 896-8007 for Plant Guides and Information.