Waukesha County

COVID-19 Vaccine: Learn more at www.waukeshacounty.gov/vaccine

Online System Project:

Updated Mon., October 11, 2021

The park system will be transitioning to a new and improved software system from October 1 - October 17, 2021.

Please note the following:

  • There will be no facility reservations (picnic areas, lodges, or beach houses), program registrations, or purchases available online or through Guest Services during this period.
  • Guest Services is not able to make any reservations or put names on a waiting list during this time. The new system will be online for customers beginning at 8 a.m. on Monday, October 18, 2021.
  • If you are requesting more information about Retzer Nature Center or Horwitz-DeRemer Planetarium programming, please call Retzer at (262) 896-8007.
  • If you have an existing reservation between now and October 17, 2021, that you need assistance with, please leave a message at (262) 548-7801 and a Guest Services representative will return your call within 24 business hours.
  • All 2022 campground reservations will open on January 1, 2022. 

Retzer Nature Center:

Updated on: Sat., September 18, 2021 

Project Updates: The Discover Trail Project Area at Retzer Nature Center may be temporarily CLOSED for construction (see Trail Map). We will be working on improvements to this area through mid-fall 2021. Please follow all posted signs. Learn more about the project.

Retzer Nature Center

What's happening at Retzer Nature Center:

Come check out all that Retzer Nature Center has to offer! We have a variety of trails to see and discover new things all year round! 


Retzer Nature Center

S14 W28167 Madison St
Waukesha, WI 53188

General Information: (262) 896-8007
Learn about our COVID-19 Response 

Nature Center Grounds: 
Daily: Sunrise - 10 pm 

Learning Center Building: 
Monday - Friday: 8 am - 4:30 pm
Saturday: 10 am - 3 pm
Sunday: Closed

No Dogs Allowed 
(Leashed service dogs permitted.)

Read more about our No Dogs Policy

Special Events
Throughout the year, Retzer Nature Center offers a number of Special Events.  Find out more about what is coming up next!

Whether it's the Nature Trail Loop, the Fen Boardwalk Trail, the Prairie Vista Trail, or a winter snowshoe trail, Retzer Nature Center offers a variety of different trails for your next adventure.

Project Updates: The Discover Trail Project Area at Retzer Nature Center may be temporarily CLOSED for construction (see Trail Map). We will be working on improvements to this area through mid-fall 2021. Please follow all posted signs. Learn more about the project.

Help revitalize Retzer's old Adventure Trail with expanded accessibility for all ages and abilities. The new Discovery Trail will include a variety of "Exploration Stations" for outdoor education, sensory-based play experiences, and STEM activities for families and school groups. 

Leave your mark on the boardwalk at Retzer Nature Center with a custom engraved plank. The Leave Your Mark Project provides an opportunity for patrons of Retzer to contribute to the ongoing enhancement of the Nature Center.


School or Scout Programs
To schedule a program, visit www.waukeshacounty.gov/environmentaled or call (262) 970-6680 with questions.

Limited funding may be available through a Friends of Retzer Nature Center Educational Program Grant. Please visit their website for more information.  

Friends of Retzer
The Friends of Retzer support Retzer Nature Center in preserving and maintaining over 450 acres of prairie, forest, wildlife habitat, nature trails, and environmental learning facilities in Waukesha County.

The state-of-the-art, 90-seat, Digistar-6 planetarium is owned and operated by the School District of Waukesha. With the new, high-definition laser projection system, guests can fly through the rings of Saturn, land spacecraft on Mars and travel at light speed to stars and distant galaxies... all without leaving their seats!

Plant Information
Find helpful information on Native Plant Identification and Invasive Species control.




Scarecrow Lane - Free Self-Guided Walks

Retzer Nature Center
More details


Story Hike - Free Self-Guided Hikes

Retzer Nature Center
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Habitat Restoration Workday

Nashotah Park
More details


Habitat Restoration Workday & Tree Planting

Monches Property
More details


Science Fest: Under the Lens

Retzer Nature Center
More details

  • History

    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.

  • 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
General Information: (262) 896-8007
Environmental Learning Center Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. (Mon.-Fri.); 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. (Saturday); Closed (Sunday)
Retzer Nature Center Ground Hours: Sunrise - 10:00 p.m. (Year-Round)

There is no daily entrance fee at Retzer Nature Center

Park System Office
515 W. Moreland Blvd. Rm AC 230 Waukesha, WI 53188
Business Hours: M-F, 8-4:30 pm (excluding Holidays)
Phone: (262) 548-7801 | Fax: (262) 896-8071
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