McHenry County Conservation District  •  18410 US Highway 14 •  Woodstock, IL 60098  •  815-338-MCCD(6223)

Prairieview Education Center


2112 Behan Road, Crystal Lake
Located in Silver Creek Conservation Area

Building Hours
Monday–Friday         9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Saturday                 12:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.     
Sunday                   Closed
Note: Site & Trail Access Open Daily - Sunrise to Sunset


Ph 815.479.5779    Fax 815.479.5766



Exploration StationPrairieview Education Center serves thousands of McHenry County residents annually by offering free and low-cost nature programs, youth field trips, summer camps, and school field trips. The facility hosts traveling exhibits, a reference library, and a family drop-in “Exploration Station.” This interactive room features hands-on activities to help children learn about the natural world. A puppet theater, themed book bags and nature boxes, board games, puzzles, books, and magazines are just some of the available activities. View site brochure.

Stop by throughout the year as the activities reflect the seasonal changes taking place in the environment. Groups of 16 people or more require an educational permit; call (815) 479-5779 to secure a permit at least 10 business days in advance of your visit.

View of the prairie


Prairieview Education Center's main building was once the elaborate home of Otto and Hazel Rhoades. Otto was the founder and president of the former Sun Electric Company in Crystal Lake (now Snap On Tools.) He designed and built a state of the art 1940’s barn and a 7,500 square foot home on the property in 1945. The Conservation District purchased the property in 1993 and began redesigning the home to fulfill the need for an educational center in the growing southeast quadrant of the county.

Opened to the public in 1999, the 10,000 square foot Prairieview Education Center environmental education facility offers a variety of programs and exhibits throughout the year for nature enthusiast of all ages. Visitors can also explore 6.5 miles of hiking and cross country ski trails that wind through prairie and savanna restoration to the banks of the Fox River, or enjoy a picnic overlooking the prairie.


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