Wisconsin’s Nature Center Wonders

Do you know your Lesser Yellowlegs from your White-Rumped Sandpiper? Your Grey-Headed Coneflower from your Black-Eyed Susan?

With so much nature to enjoy in Wisconsin, there’s a lot you can learn, too.

Nature centers across the state are dedicated to helping visitors understand and appreciate their environment.  Through habitats, exhibits, and events, they’ll help you get closer to Wisconsin’s natural wonders – and have a lot of fun doing it.

Here are a few of our favorites. There’s usually a charge for special events and classes, but you can visit and explore the trails for free:

Hunt Hill Audubon Sanctuary, Sarona

Boasting bogs, old growth forests, meadows, and two glacial lakes, Hunt Hill is a birdwatcher’s paradise.  Their creative programming includes Spanish immersion camp for adults, day camps for children, and special events for all ages. Evening programs such as “Full Moon Canoe” include free concerts in the open-air amphitheater. Ten miles of hiking trails are open to the public, and naturalist-led hikes are available.

Hours: Trails are open dawn to dusk daily. Office hours are generally Monday-Friday 9am-4pm, but can vary.

River Bend Nature Center, Racine 

Hike among woodlands, fields, and ponds; rent a canoe or kayak; or just wander and enjoy the tranquility. River Bend Nature Center, on the Root River, offers a getaway for nature lovers of all ages and abilities. Educational programs include summer camps, tiny tot classes, adult archery, a lecture series, and a book club.

Hours: Trails are open sunrise to sunset daily. Buildings are open 8am-4pm daily.

Myrick Hixon EcoPark, La Crosse 

Sitting among marshland, prairies, and limestone bluffs near the convergence of the La Crosse River with the Black and the Mississippi, EcoPark is a hub for access to hundreds of miles of trails. A beautiful EcoCenter, supported by a 26-foot willow tree column, offers interactive exhibits, a reading loft, maps, and information. You’ll be ready to hit the trails with GPS, snowshoes, and EcoPacks (backpacks full of supplies for self-guided tours) all available for daily rental.

Hours: 9am-4pm weekdays (Tuesday until 6pm), Saturday 10am-4pm and Sunday noon-4pm.

Mosquito Hill Nature Center, New London 

Mosquito Hill offers indoor and outdoor activities year-round. Indoors, you’ll find hands-on displays, natural history exhibits, an art gallery, and a library. A butterfly house is open in July and August, and an observatory is used for scheduled events. Outdoors, along the Wolf River, you’ll find a number of short trails including the wheelchair-accessible All People’s Trail.

Hours: Trails are open from sunrise until sunset daily except during gun deer hunting season. Exhibits are open Tuesday-Friday 8am-4:30pm, and weekends 10am-3pm. 

Aldo Leopold Nature Center, Monona

The Aldo Leopold Nature Center encompasses oak savanna, wetlands, prairies, and woodlands. Its trails include an award-winning interpretive trail for families. The Storms 360 Fly-Through Immersion Theater, a high-definition experience of simulated weather and climate systems, is one of many interactive exhibits. A busy calendar features summer camps, adult and teacher workshops, after-school programs, and special events like Maple Syrup Fest.

Hours: Trails are open daily, sunrise to sunset. Exhibits are open Monday-Friday from 10am–4pm and Saturday 10am-2pm.

Ready for more all-natural, all-Wisconsin fun? Check out our full nature center listings.

This entry was posted in Science and Nature Centers, Outdoor Fun, Natural Attractions and Parks, Local Parks, Trails and Hiking