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  • Writer's pictureJordan Urbeck

H&B Bremer Wildlife Sanctuary: Hillsboro's Hidden Gem

I grew up in Madison County and didn't venture out of that area too much. My husband and I bought a home in Gillespie, but I still traveled to Edwardsville for most of my photo sessions. I had a beautiful spot that I loved (shout out to the Garden's at SIUE), and was having trouble find spots I liked closer to home. I checked out park after park, but nothing got me excited. But one day I came across a Facebook post where a friend tagged a Wildlife Sanctuary just 20 minutes from my house.

I decided to check it out and WOW! I was completely blown away. Butterfly gardens, wildflowers, and nature paths, oh my! I still haven't covered every inch of the place and I have been out there many times. It is quite possibly my favorite place to take clients. Many people have never heard of it and everyone that visits is stunned by its beauty too! It's not only a great location for photos, but I would recommend it for family outings and hiking dates too. But hey, why not bring your favorite photographer along to capture those moments for you ;)

The only downside to this location is that it often involves a bit of walking. Certain spots take 10 or more minutes to get to, but there is plenty in a closer radius too. It would not be my first pick for those with mobility issues, but for most people the walk easy, and fun too!

Best Seasons

I've loved every season out at Bremer's. There's no denying the wildflower blooms and fall foliage have my heart, though. For some gorgeous blooms I recommend Early July-August. The fall leaves really start to pop somewhere around mid-late October. This location is not ideal in wet weather conditions, as it can get muddy quick.

Best Time of Day

This really is a location that peaks around sunrise and sunset. Though, with lots of tree coverage and so much space I've never encountered much of an issue with lighting through the day. I would avoid midday, but otherwise we have flexibility!

What to Wear

Anything goes with Bremer! Neutrals... colors... it all looks good against the natural backdrop. I would recommend sensible shoes due to the walking. Most shoes are fine, but anything with a heel could get uncomfortable or start sinking if the ground is soft. I have had clients bring slip ons for walking and switch to heels once we find out spot. If you need any help deciding on colors/patterns/outfits, I am always happy to help!


Hi friend! I am Jordan Urbeck of Iris and Opal Photography, a family, portrait, and event photographer located in Gillespie, IL and serving clients throughout the STL Metro region. I believe vibrant colors, genuine interactions, and creative storytelling bring photos to life and hold tangible memories. I aim to make every session an easy and positive experience so that your time with me feels more like a fun outing than a photoshoot. I can't wait to connect with you!

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