Waukesha County


Retzer Nature Center

S14 W28167 Madison St • Waukesha 53188 (directions)


Nature Center grounds: 
Open Daily: Sunrise - 10 pm (Year-Round)

Learning Center building: 
Monday - Friday: 8 am - 4:30 pm
Saturday: 10 am - 3 pm
Sunday: Closed
Closed on County-observed Federal holidays.

**No dogs** (more info) • Leashed service dogs permitted

Free entry and parking. No Parks annual membership / Parks daily permit required.  

View Special Events and programs may charge fee for entry / participation.

• Events Calendar
• Nature Center Trails
• Discovery Trail
• Environmental programs and activities for all ages
• Special Events by Waukesha County Parks

• Horwitz-DeRemer Planetarium
• Scout Programs
• Rent RNC Building | Rooms
• The Friends of Retzer Nature Center
• Check for RNC closures / alerts

Interactive Trail Map -
Click arrows above for Map Legend 

  • Rules

    Nature Center Regulations

    • Nature Center hours: Sunrise to 10 pm
    • No dogs allowed. (Service dogs permitted. See our No Dogs Policy)
    • Park in designated lot
    • Only foot traffic allowed on trails
    • Stay on designated trails, protect naturalized areas.
    • No hunting, shooting, or trapping.
    • No smoking / vaping on the grounds.
    • Alcohol prohibited. Beer and wine allowed with building rental permit only.
    • Professional photography requires Special Use Agreement or permit. Contact us for details: 262-896-8007
    • Youth organizations (under 18 years of age) must have adult supervision at all times.
    • No collection or removal of plant material or wildlife.
    • Leave no trace. Respect nature’s beauty.

    These rules are in addition to all Park Rules.

  • Policies
  • 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 greets visitors and compliment the Retzer’s original homestead.

    The Retzer Environmental Learning Center and the Horwitz-DeRemer Planetarium addition opened in May of 2005.

  • Learn More

    Additional Information

    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.  

    Volunteer as a Retzer Nature Center Teaching Naturalist 
    An apprenticeship program to become a Volunteer Teacher Naturalist who can assist Education Naturalist staff with environmental education programs for school groups, scouts, and the general public. Recommended for ages 18+. 

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

Retzer Nature Center

S14 W28167 Madison St., Waukesha, WI 53188 (directions)

Environmental Learning Center
M-F 8 am - 4:30 pm • Sat 10 am - 3 pm
Closed Sundays & County-observed Federal holidays

Retzer Nature Center Grounds
365 days Sunrise - 10 pm

Retzer Nature Center grounds open to all • No requirement for Parks annual membership or daily permit

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