Nature At The Confluence
Located on nearly 100 acres surrounded by the Rock River, Turtle Creek, and Kelly Creek, you can discover nature where Beloit, WI and South Beloit, IL meet at Nature At The Confluence. Sitting at the halfway point on the Rock River Trail, the campus offers a five-acre prairie restoration, trails, learning gardens, pollinator gardens, and programs that are held throughout the year for all ages and interests.
Until 1832, the area was the site of a major Ho-Chunk village called “Ke-Chunk,” meaning “Turtle”. Government surveys at that time show the Turtle Village at the confluence and it was reported that it was the largest in the Illinois and Wisconsin territory with more than 600 inhabitants. Nature At The Confluence takes great pride in its Indigenous history and continues to recognize and honor not only the past, but also present and future Ho-Chunk people by continuously educating the community through its programs.
Before becoming an urban environmental learning center, Nature At The Confluence land was used as a dumping ground for more than 80 years. Hundreds of tires had been dumped on the land and foundry sand and other solid waste was regularly deposited on the land for several decades, leading to more than eight feet of fill and debris. Creating a visitor and regional attraction by cleaning up the land, improving the natural habitat, and providing community access to the land at the Confluence creates a powerful story.
Whether it’s connecting people with nature by bringing them into the process of habitat restoration or teaching them through programs, every guest walks away with a meaningful experience. Currently, there are two miles of trails, but the trails are five years young and still growing thanks to dedicated volunteers and community members who understand the importance of preserving the land for our future.
The trails are open dawn to dusk and guests can walk, hike, fish, or picnic and four legged family members are always welcome. While there, I had the opportunity to talk to a local business owner who was there walking his dog. He expressed how much he loved taking breaks from work and walking the trails with his dog while taking in the serene sense of peace that nature brings him.
Nature At The Confluence is bringing nature back into the fabric of our communities, schools, and family life and relies on community support to continue to offer free and affordable programs. The entire park and learning gardens are made possible by the generous donations from the community.
Summer intern Elizabeth Allen states, “We love the community, and they love us. We’ve had great experiences in the community.” Recently, there was an issue of vandalism and part of the fire pit was stolen. The community rallied together, cleaned up the park, and purchased new benches and a fire pit so everyone can get back to enjoying the popular Community Fire & Drum Circle that takes place every third Thursday during the summer months.
Other free or low-cost programs for all ages include:
- Meet the Monarchs
- Meet Me at The Confluence
- Tuesday Trailblazing
- Wednesday Work Day
- Friday Nature Friends: A Children’s Nature Literacy Series
- Fireflies at Dusk
- Trek for National Trails Day
- Personalized programming available
So, if you’re a school group, youth group, adult group, a solo hiker looking for a safe and unique place to hike, or a family looking for a place to have a picnic that’s easily accessible, we are very fortunate to have Nature At The Confluence in our backyard waiting for you to visit.
For more information, visit natureattheconfluence.com.