Retzer Nature Center

Updated: 11/12/2014 01:05:17 PM
Retzer Nature Center

Retzer Nature Center

S14 W28167 Madison St
Waukesha, WI 53188

(262) 896-8007

Nature Center Grounds:
Sunrise to 10 pm (Year-Round)
Visitor Center:
8 am - 4:30 pm (Daily)

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Road Closure Alert Retzer Nature Center is open during closure of Madison Street.

Please access RNC via County Road DT. (Access via Merrill Hills Drive is closed.) 

View map here.

Retzer Links:

Park System Home Page
Room Rentals
Calendar of Events
Environmental Ed.
Retzer Trails
Special Events
Charles Z. Horwitz Planetarium
Friends of Retzer
Exhibit Area
Center Line Publications


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.

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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
    (Please check the event calendar for registration & more info)

    November 21 - Evening Trails "Wilderness Skills - Orienteering" - Must register by 11/19
    November 22 - Saturday Explorations "Wild Turkey!"
    December 6 - Saturday Explorations "Native American History"
    December 8 - Nature Explorers "Snow Flurries & Ice Crystals" - Must register by 12/5
    December 12 - Evening Trails "A Winter Stroll" - Must register by 12/10
    December 13 - Saturday Explorations "Holiday Recipes for Wildlife"
    December 20 - Saturday Explorations "The Forest in Winter"

    Park / Expo Events

    December 5-6 - Mistletoe Market Craft & Art Show - Expo
    December 6 - Great Lakes Championship Wrestling Blizzard Brawl - Expo
    December 7 - Milwaukee Mini Motors - Expo
    December 12-14 - Bob & Rocco Gun Show - Expo
    January 4Milwaukee Radio Control Auction & Swap Shop - Expo (Arena)
    January 4 - Motorcycle and Automotive Swap Meet - Expo (Forum Halls)
    January 10 - W.A.R.A.C Swapfest - 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.