I-20 Wildlife Preserve

Founded by naturalists, the outdoor spirit of the southern high plains is in our heritage.
Monarch Butterfly
Danaus plexippus

The I-20 Wildlife Preserve is a 100-acre riparian forest campus in Midland, Texas. It is a wild space – not a park – managed by a nonprofit organization. The 86-acre urban playa lake is the highlight of the wetlands, floodplain thickets, and prairie grasslands – providing abundant avian, wildlife, and aquatic habitat. The urban playa at the Preserve is a treasured ecotourism destination of regional significance and a science education resource of the Permian Basin.


The Preserve's freshwater aquatic biome plays host to a diversity of species. Pocket gophers and rabbits tunnel through plants at the water’s edge. Flycatchers and dragonflies capture insects over the heads of sandpipers and egrets. Mammals like raccoons and bobcats patrol the playa's marshes. Amphibians find habitat in the small ponds and reptiles like turtles, lizards, and snakes make the preserve home.


A playa lake is an ephemeral wetland found across the High Plains. These features are shallow, clay-lined basins that are a primary source of recharge for the Ogallala aquifer- a vast but rapidly depleted source of groundwater vital to life in the semi arid plains. The urban playa lake of the I-20 Wildlife Preserve, with its surrounding feral forest, prairie grasses, and ponds is a rich center for biodiversity.


Our holistic land management practice works to conserve the vibrant nature of the urban playa environment and create opportunities for outdoor and wildlife education. Careful removal of invasive plant species opens the watershed to a greater biodiversity of aquatic and avian wildlife, fortifies the ecological integrity of native plants and animals, and maintains the wild space for future generations to enjoy.

Reconnect with nature

Check out the trails, attend a class, or commune with nature in this unique urban playa environment.
Texas Geranium
Geranium texanum

Recreational features at the preserve include foot trails, an aerial observation deck, bird blinds, outdoor education platforms, a butterfly garden, and insectarium.


The preserve is a wild space that supports ambitious learning programs and encourages personal wellness pursuits. The meaningful act of connecting with nature fosters a sense of place and balances a healthy lifestyle. Visitors can enjoy bird watching, nature photography, and opportunities for outdoor exercise.


Perched above the forest canopy in the quiet northeast corner of the preserve the hawk tower allows visitors to experience an unobstructed view of the playa. This southerly vista opens up to reveal a birds-eye-view of the wildlife below and is a favorite roost for bird watchers and landscape photographers alike.


The preserve is used year-round by the community as a well-loved outdoor recreation destination. Timeworn hiking trails immerse visitors in their natural surroundings and wooden boardwalks allow for passage over wetland areas. Peaceful mornings and sunny afternoons make trail running an energizing everyday wellness activity.