Fall Visits: Road Safety, Etiquette, and Health

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, and this year the change of seasons comes amidst unprecedented circumstances. Being outside is more important than ever, and we care deeply about providing access to the outdoors during this challenging time. 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.

Road safety

Winding two-lane Arboretum/McCaffrey Drive passes through wetlands, prairie, woodland, and a residential neighborhood. The speed limit was recently reduced to 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.

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

Note that use of skateboards, roller blades, roller skis, and related equipment is not allowed. Dogs are not allowed at the Arboretum, including on the road.

Please always stay on designated trails or the road. Going off trail can damage plants, nesting sites, and other animal habitat, spread invasive species, and disrupt research. Bicycles are not allowed on trails.

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 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. All parties must follow coronavirus restrictions for photo sessions.


Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Visitor Center is closed and in-person events are cancelled until further notice. There is a portable toilet in the Visitor Center parking lot. Please follow current physical distancing guidelines—avoid crowded areas and maintain at least six feet from people you don’t live with. Masks should be worn when people are less than six feet apart.

There are countless ways to enjoy the Arboretum. Please respect the diverse needs and experiences of visitors by adhering to these visitor guidelines. Join us in these efforts to care for the plants, wildlife, landscapes, and human communities that make this place special.

We appreciate your cooperation and support of the Arboretum.