When visitors step behind the rustic gates at Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary, they quickly forget they’re in the middle of the city. A meandering trail takes visitors deep into nature’s wonderland, the quiet accented with the sounds of birds, insects, frogs and wind in the trees.
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 Minneapolis Park Board 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.
The Garden is home to over 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.
Trails and Martha Crone Visitor Shelter
The 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 you will find natural history displays, natural history reference materials and friendly staff and volunteers waiting to help with Garden-related questions.
Garden Hours: 7:30 am to one hour before sunset daily through October 15. Visitor Shelter Hours: 10:00 am to one hour before sunset Monday-Saturday, and noon to one hour before sunset on Sunday.
Peak Display Times
April and May (Woodland) - Bloodroot, wild ginger, trillium, bluebells, trout lilies
June and July (Wetland) - Showy lady’s-slippers, native irises, cardinal flowers
Fall (throughout) – prairie grasses and autumn leaves
Register for programs in person at the Martha Crone Shelter or by calling 612-370-4903. All programs begin at the Shelter unless otherwise noted.
If you would like to volunteer at the Garden, please stop by the Martha Crone Shelter or send an email to email@example.com for more information.
Exit I-394 at Penn Ave. and follow the south frontage road (Wayzata Blvd.). Turn left at the first stop sign (a three-way stop), follow curve up to the right to a stop. Turn right onto the Wirth Parkway connection, then drive north on Wirth Parkway 1/2 mile to the driveway entrance to the Garden.
Exit Hwy. l00 at Glenwood Ave. Drive east on Glenwood to Wirth Parkway. Turn right on Wirth Parkway and then left into Eloise Butler Dr.
Parking at the Garden’s lot is limited. Additional parking is available at the Wirth Beach parking lot on Glenwood Ave. To get to the Wirth Beach parking lot take a right (north) onto Theodore Wirth Parkway. At the intersection of the Parkway and Glenwood Avenue take a right (east) onto Glenwood Avenue. Follow Glenwood Avenue for 1/8 mile. The Wirth Beach Parking lot will be on your left. Parking in this lot is free.
To get to the Garden on foot cross Glenwood Ave. at the western most entrance to the lot. Directly across from this entrance you will see a gate and a trail. Pass by the gate, step onto the trail and follow the signs and pink ribbons to the Garden’s back gate. This is a 5-10 minute walk.
By Bus MTC Bus Routes 9C, 9D and 9E stop at Glenwood Ave. and Theodore Wirth Parkway. It is just a short two block walk from the bus stop to the garden gate (follow the signs).
Historical Profile: More information about this and other parks is included in Parks, Lakes, Trails and So Much More, a richly detailed account of the histories of Minneapolis’ renowned recreational system.