"One of the last great places on Earth." - The Nature Conservancy
Located between Whitehouse and Swanton, Oak Openings Preserve takes its name from the surrounding region, which is 23 times larger than the park itself. That’s something to consider when you discover that Oak Openings Preserve is about 5,000 acres. Pioneers trudging through a dense swamp called this area “Oak Openings.” Most of the park is an oak savanna ecosystem, characterized by alternating wetlands and vegetated dunes. The Nature Conservancy once named the sandy region one of the 200 “Last Great Places on Earth.” At the preserve grow prickly-pear cactus, wild lupine, and sand cherry bloom atop sand dunes just yards away from orchids in low, wet swales. There are more than 50 miles of trails in Oak Openings Preserve. Stands of isolated pine and spruce planted by the WPA during the Great Depression are still visible. The preserve is also a birder's paradise. It is the nesting place of bluebirds, indigo buntings, whippoorwills, lark sparrows and many other species, as well as an excellent location to see migrating songbirds in the spring.