Nature Boardwalk with skyline view of Chicago skyscrapers

Nature Boardwalk

Nature Boardwalk, once a simple manmade pond, is now a lush, natural, prairie-style garden filled with native plants and brimming with birds, frogs, fish, turtles, insects, and other wildlife. Lincoln Park Zoo manages this fully functioning ecosystem, completed in the summer of 2010, by removing invasive species and conducting an annual floristic survey, which allows Horticulture staff to optimize plant diversity.

A Place for Research

Nature Boardwalk acts as a living laboratory for the Lincoln Park Zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute (UWI). Since the completion of Nature Boardwalk, scientists have studied the wildlife in this area, ranging from dragonflies to coyotes, in an effort to understand how animals utilize urban habitats and how to mitigate human-wildlife conflict.

Additionally, our researchers use Nature Boardwalk to help educate learners of all ages. Tour groups learn about prairie ecosystems through interpretive walks and zoo interns conduct independent research projects under UWI guidance. Through observation and interpretive signage, guests can learn firsthand about UWI’s research efforts and about the diverse urban ecosystem present in the heart of Chicago.

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Second Saturday Garden Tours

Join fellow nature lovers for a free, guided tour of Lincoln Park Zoo’s diverse plant life and ecosystems. During each tour, a zoo horticulturist will point out interesting species in bloom, answer questions from guests, and discuss the horticulture program’s past, present, and future.

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Closeup of leaves on a tree

An Accredited Arboretum

In 2019, Lincoln Park Zoo earned Level II arboretum accreditation in recognition of the Horticulture staff’s ongoing effort to identify, label, and monitor the more than 330 species of trees, shrubs, and woody plants represented across the 49-acre park.

Nature Boardwalk