Looking for something to do on Saturdays that doesn’t involve chores, video games or Facebook? Then look to the right of this sentence. Yup, that’s the Durango Nature Center, which offers an easy way to get out of the house, offline and into nature for the day.
In 1998, Durango Nature Studies acquired the 142-acre natural area that’s permanently protected by a conservation easement. The upper 35-acre section has miles of interpretive hiking trails, access to the Florida River, a floating dock in the pond, prairie dog colonies, bird boxes, a sage-rabbitbrush habitat, an ancient ponderosa pine cross-section with marked rings, a picnic pavilion and a parking lot.
Visitors can also follow a path down to 105 acres bordering the Florida River where trails will lead them through riparian habitats, meadows, oak woodlands, piñon-juniper forests and desert arroyos. All the trails have interpretative markers along the way.
The Nature Center also offers a junior naturalist badge program and a children’s habitat play space, so be sure to bring the kiddos (but not the dogs).
The Nature Center is open to the public 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday through Oct. 27. Entrance is free for Durango Nature Studies members and for children 12 and younger, but the cost is $5 for nonmembers — which is still waaaaaay cheaper than taking the family to a matinee.
The Durango Nature Center is about a 30-minute drive south of Durango. To get there, take U.S. Highway 550 south toward Farmington, 12 miles from Farmington Hill. At the base of Bondad Hill, turn left at the Ignacio sign onto County Road 310/318. Make an immediate left onto “River’s End Lane” and travel less than 1/10 mile to the parking area.