Managed by the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board ("MPRB"), the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary ("EBWG") is traditionally open from 7:30 a.m. until one hour before sunset, seven days a week between April 1st and October 15th, and on until October 31 from 7:30am to one hour before sunset. However, hours will be revised again in 2021.
2021 Visitor Guidelines
Due to the ongoing pandemic, MPRB has chosen to keep EBWG's 2021 season much the same as 2020. These differences include:
- The garden opens April 15, 2021.
- The visitors shelter will remain closed for the season.
- A one-way path through the gardens for all visitors. This allows for social distancing on narrow trails.
- Face coverings will be required when social distancing is not possible.
- Children must be within reach of an adult from their group at all times
- Entry for groups (10 people or less) and individuals is staggered every few minutes to give visitors a leisurely, semi-secluded visit.
- Find more details MPRB's website.
What to Pack in 2021:
MPRB recommends that you pack your go bags with insect repellent, water bottles, hand sanitizer, sunscreen and/or sunhat, raingear, and masks for all.
Martha Crone Visitor Shelter
The Martha Crone Visitor Shelter in the Wildflower Garden is traditionally open from 10 a.m. until one hour before sunset Monday-Saturday and from 12 p.m. until one hour before sunset on Sundays. However, in 2021, it will be closed for the season.
About Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden
Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden is part of Theodore Wirth Park. The 15-acre garden is the oldest public wildflower garden in the nation. Its legacy dates back to 1907 when Minneapolis botanist Eloise Butler and botany teachers successfully petitioned the MPRB to create a natural botanic garden to preserve native flora as the city grew. Three acres of bog, meadow and hillside were properly fenced and the Wild Botanic Garden opened April 27, 1907. In 2019, the boardwalk was expanded to increase accessibility to the gardens for visitors.
The Garden is home to more than 500 plant species and 130 bird species. It provides 60,000 visitors annually with spectacular seasonal displays of native wildflowers in woodland, wetland and prairie areas. Each area creates a different habitat that fosters different types of plants, animals and birds. A 2/3-mile trail features 49 interpretive stations for guided and self-guided tours. Nestled in the garden is the Martha Crone Visitor Shelter where visitors will find natural history displays, natural history reference materials and friendly staff and volunteers waiting to help with Garden-related questions.
Programs and Tours at Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden
- Online at www.minneapolisparks.org using ActiveNet (credit card payment)
- In person at the Visitor Shelter in the Wildflower Garden
Garden Guidebook can be borrowed or purchased for $5 at the Visitor Shelter. Follow the station numbers to learn more about plant species within the Wildflower Garden.
Family Fun Adventure Backpacks at Eloise Butler
The Garden offers loaner Family Fun Adventure Backpacks that are filled with activities to do together while exploring. Start your visit with a stop to the Visitor Shelter to borrow a backpack or a Garden Scavenger Hunt for a fun way to explore the Garden with your family. Binoculars are also available to borrow.
In the event that backpacks are not available when visitor shelter is closed, you may want to pack a bag of your own:
- We have created a Birding Checklist of What to Pack for Bird Watching;
- EBWG offers downloadable map and What Will I See at the Garden? Guide;
- The Garden's official flower identification book, which was published in 2001, is a small enough paperback to tuck in your purse and bring along;
- City of Lakes Waldorf School has a downloadable scavenger hunt created by one of its families.
Parking at Eloise Butler Gardens
NOTE: The Garden parking lot is a pay lot. You will need a Minneapolis Parks Parking Permit sticker, or use the pay box to park. Payment receipts or sticker must be displayed on your car’s dashboard to be valid. Parking at Minneapolis Park Lots ranges from 75 cents to $1.50/hour.
Improvements to Eloise Butler
The parks department is in the early stages of planning improvements at the gardens and are considering adding a new bathroom, a tool shed, an addition to the visitor center (which is quite small), and some upgrades to the front entrance. Work is planned to begin is 2020 or 2021.