St. John’s Arboretum



Hwy 94 north to exit 156, left on CR 159


Run by

St. John’s University

Date Established

Date Established


160 acres


No admission fee

Peak Season


Peak season (notes)

Late summer – prairie areas



Garden Type



  • Free parking area by the information kiosk 
  • Hiking 
  • Bird watching 
  • Herbarium (in the University)


St. John’s is a natural arboretum that focuses on vegetation native to Minnesota and on habitat restoration. The Arboretum is a living laboratory for student education with public outreach to visitors and students of all ages. The habitat restoration project is on 160 acres of the 2,500 acres owned by the University. There are 50 acres of prairie (the Roscoe Prairie located near campus is the largest remaining piece of undisturbed Minnesota prairie) and 35 acres of oak savannah. The University has had a distinguished and unique history with this land and vegetation. St. John’s itself was incorporated in 1858, having been founded by Benedictine monks that first settled on 320 acres of land on the Mississippi to build their abbey. The monks were forestation pioneers, starting large plantations of conifers beginning in 1894, from seeds they had brought from their German homeland. They had a very active horticulture program and built a huge “Crystal Palace” type greenhouse before 1900, sadly now gone. In 1905 they became a trial station for the Minnesota Horticultural Society. The large information kiosk off County Road 159 leading to St. John’s is a source for information and brochures on the Arboretum and its restoration projects. It is surrounded by prairie plants that are well labeled. Nearby begins a walkway through wetlands that leads to portions of the restored oak savannah.

Garden photos
tall grasses and signage
tall grasses with some trees