The Indiana Insider Blog

A Maze of Prairie Color

Indiana Tourism welcomes today’s guest blogger, Tim Cordell:

Tim Cordell - DNRTim Cordell is an interpretive naturalist at Potato Creek State Park. He has worked for DNR since 1978 at Potato Creek, McCormickís Creek and Spring Mill State Parks. Tim plays an active role in the parkís resource management as well as running the nature center and park programming.

Fall Prairie

Prairies are Alive with Color in the Fall

Not all fall color is on trees and the Prairie Maze at Potato Creek State Park is the perfect place to experience this.† The subtle purplish blue of the big bluestem grass, the vibrant yellows of the many varieties of sunflowers and the deep purple of ironweed are among the many colors awaiting you as you explore the maze cut into one of the prairie plantings at Potato Creek.

As you work your way through the maze you will find several interpretive signs placed amongst the seven foot tall grasses.

After having read a little about the prairie and its management you will try to answer a question relating to that sign.† Along with each answer choice there is a direction to head at the intersection by the sign.† If you choose the correct answer you will be lead to the next sign, if not you may have to back track and try again.† The goal is to find each sing in order with a minimum number of turns.

The prairie maze is one of my favorite things to work on each year.† It gives me a chance to get away from the computer and phones and spend a few hours on a tractor.† As Iím mowing the maze path, a lot of the time I canít even see where Iím going through the tall grass.† That makes me think of what it might have been like to have traveled through the prairies found here a few hundred years ago..† Iíve read of stories of people having to stand on their horseís back to see which way to head.

I Need to Stand Up to See Over the Grass!

I have to stand up on the tractor to find my way around in the little 20 acre field.† What would it have been like to travel through a prairie that stretched for hundreds of miles?† Come check out this prairie maze and let you imagination wander back to what the original Indiana landscape might have been like.

The maze will remain open through the end of October.† Fliers about it can be picked up at the Parkís main gate, office and nature center.† There is no charge for the maze beyond the normal park gate fee.† A complete listing of the fees can be found here. Potato Creek State Park is located about 10 miles southwest of South Bend on State Road 4.

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Written by : The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) manages a wide variety of state-owned lands that are available for all sorts outdoor recreation activities. Staff are charged with managing and interpreting the natural and cultural resources of these sites, and with regulating lake and stream usage, fish, wildlife, oil, gas and coal and Indiana's archeological and historic resources. For more information about the DNR or careers in natural resources, visit