Waukesha County

Due to COVID-19, Waukesha County's in-person services may be limited or altered. Click here for hours and updates

Retzer Nature Center:

Updated on: Fri., November 20, 2020
Hiker Advisory: Deer season is open, there may be hunters on private land adjacent to Retzer Nature Center. For your safety, wearing blaze orange or bright colors is recommended when hiking on the yellow fen trail.
Construction Updates: Retzer Nature Center is currently undergoing some exciting new renovations. The building and most trails are open for visitors. Please watch for updates, signs, and changes to vehicle and pedestrian routes as some of the drives, parking lots, trails, and outdoor areas will be temporarily closed. Please view the closures parking map and trails map.
Madison Street Construction: Access to Retzer Environmental Learning Center building will be limited coming from the east using Madison Street due to a road project. Access is available from Hwy 18 and County Rd DT. Read more about the Madison Street Reconstruction Project.

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

Nature Center Grounds: 
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

COVID-19 Information: 

Updated on: Fri., November 20, 2020

Retzer Environmental Learning Center buildings are OPEN to the public. Be aware of ongoing construction.

  • Visitors should practice social distancing by maintaining distance of approximately 6 feet from others.
  • Due to the Governor's Order, masks or other face coverings are required by all visitors, ages 5 and older, while indoors in a county facility or within an enclosed area. 

All trails are OPEN

  • No dogs allowed (service dogs permitted).
  • Practice social distancing by maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet) from others on the trails.

For updated information about COVID-19 in Waukesha County, visit: www.waukeshacounty.gov/COVID19. Visit this page routinely as data about COVID-19 changes daily.

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.

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.




Thankful For Parks Free Park Entry Weekend

Waukesha County Fee-Based Parks
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The Outdoor Classroom: Animal Adaptations – Avian Adventure

Retzer Nature Center
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The Outdoor Classroom: Winter Tracking and Animal Signs

Retzer Nature Center
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The Outdoor Classroom: Home Sweet Habitat – Pond

Retzer Nature Center
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The Outdoor Classroom: Animal Adaptations – Avian Adventure

Retzer Nature Center
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  • 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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