State parks make learning fun with nature centers and wildlife exhibits

Activities include interpretive hikes, games and arts and crafts

West Virginia State Parks and Forests have so much to offer, not only in terms of natural beauty, but in their ability to serve as an outdoor classroom for all ages. Education and conservation are key to preserving our wild and wonderful state, and you can have fun while learning, too!

Nature programs

Most of our larger state parks and forests have nature centers that offer programs and activities geared toward kids, but there are plenty of things for adults to enjoy, too.

Join the park naturalist on an interpretive walk to learn fascinating facts about park history, plants and animals. Take part in an outdoor game like a scavenger hunt. Make nature-themed arts and crafts. Watch educational films about wildlife. Or sit around a campfire making s’mores as you share ghost stories.

Upcoming events

What’s your favorite subject? Whether you’re into birds and butterflies or earth and space, you’re sure to find a fun and educational program at state parks and forests. Here are just a few of the wide variety of events set for the coming weeks. For a comprehensive list, visit West Virginia State Parks online and click on the Events tab.

July 26: Be a Monarch Butterfly Scout at Cacapon Resort State Park. The park’s pollinator zone field is the site for a citizen science study in cooperation with Monarch Joint Venture nationwide assessment of West Virginia’s state butterfly. Participants will receive a Monarch Scout patch and certificate.

Aug. 1: Geology Rocks! At Pipestem Resort State Park. Presented by geologists from the West Virginia Economic and Geologic Survey, this program at the park amphitheater focuses on rocks, minerals and fossils found throughout the state.

Aug. 3: Join in an Owl Prowl at Cass Scenic Railroad State Park. The park naturalist leads this evening excursion to listen for and identify owls or other night sounds.

Aug. 9: Learn about Fireflies: Nature’s Sky Writers at Chief Logan State Park. Kids will make a simple craft to learn a little bit why fireflies glow, then head aside to see the fireflies at dark.

Aug. 9-16: Head to Blackwater Falls State Park for a Party with the Perseids. The NASA Starlab, and indoor interpretive dome, will set up during the Perseids meteor showers week for visitors to learn about the night sky and constellations.

Aug. 10: Three Rivers Avian Center brings their popular show, “Wings of Wonder” – Birds of Prey” to Lost River State Park. Learn about the habitat, diet, and behavior of several live “guest stars,” including owls, hawks and eagles.

Come see live wildlife exhibits!

At park nature centers you’re also likely to find a collection of small live animals like snakes and turtles you can study up close—but did you know that Chief Logan State Park has its own miniature zoo? Follow the shaded path through the woods to observe native wild animals in their natural habitats, including black bear, bobcat, wild boar and red-tailed hawks.

If you’re camping at Audra State Park, you might want to plan a day trip over to the West Virginia State Wildlife Center in French Creek. Operated by the Wildlife Resources Section of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, the wildlife center exhibits native animals in spacious enclosures along a 1.25-mile ADA-accessible trail through hardwood forest. Interpretive signs detail each animal’s life history, biology and its relationship with humans.

Come check out all the great nature programs at West Virginia State Parks. Start planning your Almost Heaven getaway today!

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