Rock Springs Nature Preserve

About This Preserve

Ecology and Management

Rock Springs is managed for its habitat as being of highest and best use.

Rock Springs consists of a unique habitat of global significance, caused by thin infertile soil derived from underlying serpentine rock geology. Serpentine soil has too much toxic nickel and chromite and too little calcium for most plants but supports an array of rare plant species that have evolved to survive in such conditions. Managing serpentine landscapes as barrens requires significant effort and resources, otherwise the barrens characterized primarily by scrubby grasslands gives way to early successional forest. This type of forest may be considered unique to Pennsylvania but is not necessarily unique to the eastern United States. Where once natural fires performed the ecological service of maintaining the serpentine landscape as barrens, now prescribed fires may be the most sustainable method for managing this landscape for its unique qualities.


Two unnamed tributaries flow into the Conowingo Creek which then empties into the Susquehanna River in Maryland.

Hunting Information

Rock Springs is open to Mixed-Use Hunting. Respect property boundaries and safety zones. All Pennsylvania Game Commission Rules and Regulations apply. See ‘Where to Hunt’ for more details.

Report Hunting Violations: PA Game Commission Centralized Dispatch Center at 1-833-PGC-HUNT (1-833-742-4868) or 1-833-PGC-WILD (1-833-742-9453)

Acquisition History

Acquired by The Nature Conservancy in the 1990s with funding from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the property was transferred to the Lancaster Conservancy in 2004.


Parking. Preserve sign.

Prevent Tick Borne Illness!

  • Wear repellent
  • Check for ticks after your visit
  • Shower soon after being outdoors
  • Call your doctor if you get a fever or rash

For more information visit

Spotted Lanternfly Alert!

Lancaster County is a Spotted Lanternfly quarantine area. This highly invasive insect is a serious threat to the health of our forests.

What you can do to help:

  1. Report spotted lanternfly sightings to Penn State Extension or call 1-888-4BADFLY.
  2. Stop the Spread. Look before you leave! Check gear, vehicles, and trailers.
  3. Smash them, bash them, kill them dead.
  4. Scrap and smash egg masses.

Emergency Information

In case of emergency, call 911

Nearest Hospital – 25.7 miles away
Penn Medicine Lancaster General Hospital

555 N. Duke Street, Lancaster, PA 17602

Additional Resources

Robert Fulton Fire Company

PA State Police