One of the best things about living in Wisconsin is the number of ways we can get out and do something different in the same place. Whatever your interests are, Nature Centers across the state remain open year-round and have plenty of programs and activities that will get you out into nature and learning more about our Wisconsin winter wonderland.
For cold-weather hiking, we love Schmeeckle Reserve in Stevens Point. If you go, make sure and climb to the top of the tree house located on the Trail of Reflections and then warm up at the Visitor’s Center. For even more fresh air, the nearby Steven’s Point Sculpture Park makes a fabulously whimsical backdrop for snowshoeing.
If you’re looking for breathtaking views of a frozen Lake Michigan, head to the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center located fifteen minutes north of downtown Milwaukee in Bayside. School children on winter break can enjoy Fun in the Winter Sun, an educational program where they search for animal tracks and find out which critters are hibernating (or not). The winter carnival in late January features indoor and outdoor activities, including a hike down to the frozen shoreline in search of ice-canos, amazing ice formations.
Visitors to the Pringle Nature Center in Bristol have many options to choose from. From a nature time story hike to looking for the Geminids meteor shower, the winter solstice celebration, or the candlelight night hike on Valentine’s day, this center will keep you busy. GPS units are available at the front desk if you want to try wintertime geocaching. You can also pick up snowshoes or a kid-friendly explorer packs.
One of the few opportunities to venture off the designated trails at the Heckrodt Wetland Reserve in Menasha is during the candlelight snowshoe hike in January (when you’re finished, warm up around a bonfire and enjoy a cup of hot cocoa). Kids can put their snow pants to the test in the outdoor play area or on a climb down into a manmade eagle’s nest.
The Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center, one of the of the three nature centers located on the Horicon Marsh, is also offering candlelight snowshoe hike and owl prowl events in January. For those of you located closer to the Chippewa Valley, Beaver Creek Reserve will teach you to make your own snowshoes at one of their two scheduled events. Or, perhaps you’d enjoy attending the winter wolf ecology workshop and learning about the timber wolf.
For more information on what’s happening at a Nature Center near you, check out Travel Wisconsin.