Hike through wetlands and forests, develop a better understanding for the local flora and fauna, and educate yourself about the wildlife right in your backyard. You can do all this and more at one of Arkansas’ many nature centers. They don’t call it the Natural State for nothing! Here are our 10 favorites in the state.
With the exception of Mondays and major holidays, the Central Arkansas Nature Center has been open year-round since 2008. Located along the Arkansas River, this center focuses on the wide range of outdoor experiences provided by the Natural State’s fish and wildlife resources. The 16,232 square foot building housing this nature center sits on 3.4 acres within the Julius Breckling Riverfront Park and is a part of the River Market District in Little Rock.
Located in the beautiful Arkansas River Valley, the Nature Center overlooks the popular Wells Lake. This nature center is situated on 170 acres of Fort Smith land that was previously a part of Fort Chaffee. Sight-seeing visitors come to this center for the native plants, Canada geese, and the colorful songbirds as well as the trails, fishing and canoeing.
The Delta Rivers Nature Center, the first of the four AGFC-built nature centers in the Natural State, is an educational facility that allows visitors the chance to learn about the wildlife, ecology, and heritage of the Arkansas Delta. Located on 130 acres of land in the Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) Regional Park, this nature center was designed as if it were a waterfowl hunting lodge.
The exhibits inside this unique nature center reveal the natural forces that created native wildlife and formed the 200-mile-long Crowley’s Ridge. Universally accessible trails and boardwalks at this nature center, like the Habitats Trail, take hikers through prairie, wetlands, and forest Like the other nature centers built by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center is open year-round with the exception of Mondays and major holidays.
The Ozark Natural Science Center has a mission to enhance the understanding, appreciation, and stewardship of the Ozark natural environment. The ONSC stresses the importance of keeping our natural world healthy through its educational programs which allow students a hands-on personal experience of the topic.
The Gates Rogers Foundation’s premiere conservatory project, the South Fork Nature Center is dedicated to preserving the natural beauty and diversity of the Greers Lake shoreline. Located in the Boston Range of the Ozark Mountains on the west side of Greers Ferry Lake, this nature center has preserved and maintains more than two miles of nature trails.
The Wetlands is located on 13 acres of wetlands on the Arkansas River next to the William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum. This restored wetland habitat is designed to showcase the river life and wildlife for the education and enjoyment of the millions of visitors to the Clinton Presidential Center community. The Wetlands project features public access to pedestrian trails as well as environment, wildlife, and conservation opportunities.
With a focus on the habitats of birds and other wildlife, the mission of Audubon Arkansas is to conserve and restore the area’s natural ecosystem. The Audubon Nature Center is located in Southeast Little Rock in the center of Granite Mountain, an historic African-American community south of Fourche Creek. This center’s 400 acres feature the Nepheline Syenite Glade, a world-wide rarity found only in the Arkansas counties of Pulaski and Saline, and the Chimney Swift Towers, a sanctuary for Chimney Swift birds.
The Grandview Prairie Center sits on 4,885 acres of Blackland Prairie, the most significant example existing in the Natural State. This Arkansas nature center is home to a variety of animals, birds, insects, amphibians, reptiles, and aquatic species, just to name a few.
The Potlatch Cook's Lake Nature Center is located in one of America’s largest tracts of bottomland hardwood forest near the small town of Casscoe. At different times of the year, over 140 species of birds have been observed and identified in this area. In addition to birding, visitors to this center enjoy a variety of fish, plant, and wildlife resources.