The Ridges Sanctuary

Preservation, Education, and Research

Our Story

In 1937, The Ridges Sanctuary became Wisconsin’s first land trust. For 85 years, it has been an integral part of the rich, natural setting of the Baileys Harbor community and the Door County Peninsula.

Founded to preserve the original 30 acre parcel, The Ridges has grown thoughtfully and strategically to ensure the protection of the most biologically diverse ecosystem in Wisconsin. Today, with the support of over 1700 members in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and the hard work of our staff and more than 100 committed volunteers, The Ridges permanently protects over 1600 acres of the most critical lands in our community.

The Sanctuary is named for its distinctive topography - a series of 30 ridges and swales formed by the movement of Lake Michigan over the past 1,400 years. This ridge-swale complex provides a wide range of environmental conditions, from open beach to densely shaded conifer forest. Nearly 500 different species of plants, including 25 species of native orchids, populate these varied habitats which are also home to over 60 species of breeding birds and 12 threatened or endangered species, including the federally endangered Hine’s Emerald dragonfly. Each year, we welcome thousands of visitors to these pristine acres where orchids continue to thrive along trails and boardwalks much as they did when these paths were first cleared by our founding members in 1938.