Rocky Prairie Natural Area Preserve

A state-listed sensitive plant species that grows only in Puget prairies, white topped aster, is also protected on the preserve.This 35 acre preserve, located on a glacial outwash plain, protects an example of the "Mima Mound" landscape and a small remnant of native Puget prairie grassland, which is dotted with large glacial cobbles. The landscape is a gently rolling plain with low swales and rises. The largest known population of golden paintbrush, a federally listed threatened plant species, grows on the preserve. A state-listed sensitive plant species that grows only in Puget prairies, white topped aster, is also protected on the preserve.  
Features Protected: Idaho fescue grassland ecosystem, golden paintbrush, white-top aster, Mima Mound topography.
Ecoregion: Puget Trough (Thurston County)

Science, Research and Monitoring

Public and private universities, other research institutions and individual researchers may contact DNR to propose a research project at the site. If you are interested in pursuing research at Rocky Prairie NAP, please contact David Wilderman, natural areas ecologist, at  
Examples of research and monitoring projects
  • Dunwiddie, P.W., Davenport, R. and Speaks, P.  2001.  Effects of burning on Castilleja levisecta at Rocky Prairie Natural Area Preserve, Washington: a summary of three long-term studies.  In Reichard, S.H., Dunwiddie, P.W., Gamon, J., Kruckenberg, A.R. and Salstrom, D.L. editors. Conservation of Washington’s native plants and ecosystems.  Washington Native Plant Society, Seattle, WA. Pp.161-172.
  • Evans, S., Schuller, R., and E. Augenstein. 1984. A report on Castilleja levisecta at Rocky Prairie Thurston County, Washington. Report to The Nature Conservancy, Washington Field Office, Seattle, WA. 39pp. + appendices.
  • Golden paintbrush population monitoring (conducted semi-annually)

Environmental Education and Public Access The landscape is abloom with purple color.

Currently no formal educational programs are available at Rocky Prairie NAP. The site is not ADA accessible and facilities are not available. For more information, contact the DNR Pacific Cascade Region natural areas manager.
Site Stewards
Volunteer site stewards are needed year round to monitor the site, remove invasive species and check perimeter fences. If you are interested in becoming a site steward, please contact the Pacific Cascade Region Natural Areas Manager for more information. 

Restoration at Rocky Prairie NAP

The Department of Natural Resources, along with a number of partner organizations, is actively restoring parts of Rocky Prairie NAP to enhance conditions for rare plants, butterflies and birds that inhabit prairie habitat.