Pipestone National Monument, by virtue of its protected status, has some of the only native tallgrass prairie habitat left in the southwest Minnesota. The plants of the prairie can be seen close up along the Circle Trail and viewed as a stunning mosaic from the road. Over 500 species of plants occur at the Monument; many of them are rare. One federally threatened species, the Western prairie-fringed orchid, occurs at the Monument but is not visible most of the year from the Circle Trail. Between 9 and 13 state-listed rare species also occur at the Monument, mostly associated with the rock outcroppings.
The tallgrass prairie is a vanishing ecosystem, and the staff at Pipestone National Monument is making every effort to preserve this valuable resource through the use of controlled burns and removal of non-native or introduced plant species.