National Parks / Natural World

Ballard Nature Center Altamont

Where is it at?

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Ballard Nature Center
5253 E US Highway 40
Tel: 618 483 6856

Where are we going today?

Kids love getting in the garden, finding those toads, chasing butterflies, and crunching those fall leaves. So why not spend your family day out doing exactly that....only this time, they are learning too!

Ballard Nature Center is outdoor fun AND education for all ages! There is outdoor fun, indoor fun, and a few creative touches too!

A great place to start is the visitor center.

The interactive exhibits here offer something for all ages. Scientific information is portrayed in creative ways, thanks to the help of local artisans, naturalists and scientists, so kids can really start to learn about ecology and biology in a fun and simple way. Many of the exhibits are tailored to children allowing them to do what they do best: learn by exploring and touching! Sounds great!

Here, can look through a preiscope at that amazing underwater ecosystem, or see what is hiding in those logs. They can even try and uncover animal tracks! How much fun does that sound!?

There are approximately six miles of hiking trails of varying lengths, most trails are rated as "easy", so they really are for the whole family.

Interpretive signs along the trails offer everyone who visits a chance to learn about the flora and fauna found along the trails, so as you spot those cheeky critters, you can know exactly what you are looking at!

A handicapped-accessible observation deck offers a vista of the center's diverse natural communities, so EVERYONE really can have a great time at the Ballard Nature Center!

The deck elevates above the tall grasses and forbs of the prairie offering you a view of a large wetland, which may provide sightings of waterfowl, shorebirds and basking turtles.

If that wasn't enough, an indoor bird viewing area offers a fun area to try and spot over 30 species of birds that visit the feeders and water feature throughout the year. Chipmunks, squirrels and rabbits are also seen at the feeding area. The bird viewing windows offer the opportunity for close encounters with creatures, creating lasting memories.

With that much nature, it would be a shame not to really embrace it at the Ballard Nature Center. After all - nature's calling!

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How much does it cost?

  • AdultsFree as far as we can tell!
  • ChildrenFree as far as we can tell!

When can we go?

VC: 8am - 4pm weekdays. 12pm - 4pm Sat / 1pm - 4pm Sun.

Closed Sundays & Mondays in Winter.

Teachers corner

With a nature center that is ALL about learning, it would be a shame not to bring the students! They offer field trips for all grade levels that cover subjects designed for your age groups. They can arrange a naturalist to visit your classroom in winter, and they have summer camps for K - 10!.

I'm Hungry!

The Ballard Nature Center has picnic areas available to guests, including two pavilions, so why not bring your own lunch!. Picnic tables and grills are available at each pavilion, and they are handicap accessible .

Any Top Tips?

Check out the kids fishing pond where they can try and catch some bluegill, bass, or catfish - just some of the fish in the 1.3 acre pond!.

Doing our bit

The nature center protects all the wildlife that live there, AND educate so kids in the future will know why it's so important to look after our environment!.

Need a little extra help?

Many of the areas are handicap accessible, including the picnic areas, kids fishing pond, and trails!.

Can I get one of those?

Can you have a great time on the trails? Yes you can, because they are open EVERY DAY of the year from dawn to dusk!.

More information

There is a resource library in the visitor center so kids can really enhance their education during their time at the nature center!.

What people are saying?

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    Great place for a walk with nature or family. Or a prime location for family photos. As a bonus they often hold educational events for the entire family.

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