Cayler Prairie State Preserve is located on the western edge of the Des Moines Lobe landform region, where moving glaciers pushed into north Iowa 13,000-14,000 years ago forming the irregular knobs and basins seen on the preserve.There are 225 native plant species on the preserve, including 35 species of grass such as big bluestem and muhly grass. Common springtime flowers are golden alexanders and Lambert's crazyweed and summertime blooms include sawtooth sunflower and prairie rose. Fall brings Missouri goldenrod, New England aster and dotted gayfeather. Hunting is permitted on the preserve and there are 72 recorded wildlife species there. Common species include Northern chorus frogs, eastern tiger salamanders, grasshopper sparrows, short-billed marsh wrens, least weasels, and badgers. There are also more than 25 butterfly species on the preserve including the Dakota skipper and regal fritillary.
Botanist Ada Hayden visited the prairie in 1944 and recommended it be preserved, and in 1958, it was purchased by the Iowa Conservation Commission by the Cayler family. In 1966, it was made a National Natural Landmark and dedicated as a state preserve in 1971.
Fees, permits, and reservations may apply.