Fall Visits: Etiquette and Road Safety

A canopy of trees in fall color seen from below with blue sky above.

The sun shines through the golden-hued foliage of oak trees at the Arboretum. (Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison)

Fall is a busy season at the Arboretum, especially during the colorful change of seasons. We’d like to take the opportunity to share some information and reminders about visiting and ask visitors to help us protect the land and care for each other and all that lives here.

Visitor Etiquette

Visitor rules are in place to protect all that lives here, help minimize human impact on the land, facilitate restoration and research efforts, and provide a peaceful, enjoyable visitor experience. Please always stay on designated trails, lawns, or the road. Going off trail can damage plants, nesting sites, and other animal habitat, spread invasive species, and disrupt research.

Please note the following are not allowed at the Arboretum:

  • Dogs and other pets
  • Picnics
  • Drones
  • Tree climbing, hammocks, and slacklines
  • Sports equipment such as balls and frisbees
  • Collecting plant and animal materials
  • Hunting, target practice, or other use of weapons

Personal photography is allowed, but any posed or formal photography (such as family, senior, engagement, wedding, and other portraits) taken by professional or hobby photographers, requires a photography permit.

Road safety

Winding two-lane Arboretum/McCaffrey Drive passes through wetlands, prairie, woodland, and a residential neighborhood. The speed limit is 20 mph (this applies to bicycles, too). New lines have been painted on the road, updated traffic signage is being installed, and crosswalks have been added where trails intersect the road.

We see higher traffic volume in fall—on foot, bicycle, and by car. Safety and access are both important. We ask all road users to share the road responsibly and respectfully. There is always a possibility that wildlife will be present. Please slow down, especially around blind curves, and make space for others. Do not stop or gather on the road.

Drivers: Do not pass other cars. Do not stop in a traffic lane or park on the roadside. Only pass pedestrians and cyclists slowly, when there is room to pass, and do not pass around blind curves.

Cyclists: Ride no more than two abreast. Ride single file when it is safe for a car to pass. Do not pass motor vehicles. Bicycles are not allowed on trails.

Pedestrians: Runners and walkers should stay on the left shoulder of the paved road, facing oncoming traffic. Do not obstruct traffic lanes.

Note: Skateboards, roller blades, roller skis, electric scooters, and other similar devices are not allowed. Dogs are not allowed at the Arboretum, including on the road.