Located within Silver Creek Conservation Area
2112 Behan Road, Crystal Lake
Ph 815.479.5779 Fax 815.479.5766
Building Hours November–March
Monday–Friday 9 a.m.– 5 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m.– 4 p.m.
Sunday 12 p.m.– 4 p.m.
Monday–Saturday 9 a.m.– 5 p.m.
Sunday 1 p.m.– 5 p.m.
Site & Trail Access Open Daily Sunrise to Sunset
Prairieview 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 the site brochure.
Stop by throughout the year as the activities reflect the seasonal changes taking place in the environment. Groups of over 16 people require an educational permit. Please call (815) 479-5779 to secure a permit at least 14 days in advance of your visit.
Self-guided Educational Loan Materials
Available at the Prairieview Education Center, we offer a variety of materials you can borrow for use off site or while you visit. Materials are appropriate for teachers, parents, and scout leaders seeking curriculum supplements, family activities, or assistance with badge requirements. We are also a lending site for the resource trunks available through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Division of Education. You may borrow up to two kits at one time, for a maximum of two weeks. All materials are free to use, however, when borrowing a pack to take on the trails during your visit, a driver’s license must be left in the center as a deposit. Click here to view or download our Loan Materials brochure for more information.
The Prairieview Education Center 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. McHenry County 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. Outdoors, visitors can 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.