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Prairie Park Nature Center, Lawrence

Categories: Wildlife Areas, Visitor Centers, Traveler Resources, Nature & Parks
Inspirock Rating:
4.2/5 based on 20+ reviews on the web
Prairie Park Nature Center opened in 1999 as an 80-acre nature preserve on the east side of Lawrence. It has since expanded to 100 acres.

The preserve incorporates wetlands, woodlands and prairie habitats and a five acre lake. Visitors may see a wide variety of native Kansas wildlife on the property including beavers, deer, bobcats and birds of prey.

The nature center preserve and education building are operated by the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department and funded by City of Lawrence sales tax revenue.

Prairie Park offers walking trails for bird watchers and wildlife enthusiasts as well as educational programs to the public, schools and local groups.

Mary’s Lake is just a short walk from the education building and is open for public fishing. It is stocked with fish by the Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks.

The education building features natural habitat dioramas, displays and live animals, including a live bird of prey collection with eagles, owls,9 hawks and falcons.

(All information for this page was sourced from either the Prairie Park Nature Center or City of Lawrence, KS websites)
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  • Recommended for ages 4-11. Good exhibits on the native biomes of Kansas and the plants and wildlife that make up the state. 
  • I was a little disappointed. This is probably great if you are going with kids, but as I am an adult I felt like the exhibits and interactions weren't appropriate. The walking trail around it was tiny...  read more »
  • The combination of outdoor nature trail/lake/forest and indoor displays is interesting. I appreciate that they focus on native flora and (mostly) fauna. The dioramas are dated and somewhat amateurish....  read more »
  • A nature center can be incredibly educational and exciting for children and adults alike without putting animals in captivity for the amusement of people. I was hoping this would be a place to appreciate nature -- as found *in nature* (i.e., frogs in the pond, birds in the trees, etc...) but instead found animals caged and tethered in disgusting conditions. While a handful may be injured animals that cannot be released into the wild, many more of these animals are very able-bodied and otherwise healthy, but were captured specifically to be put on display, with no need other than to satisfy the curiosity of people. I disagree that children need to be able to see animals live (in captivity) to fully appreciate nature and all it has to offer. Videos, books, and viewing animals in the wild more than suffice. Caging them for the amusement of people is just inhumane, unnecessary, and disappointing. Frankly, I'm surprised a city such as Lawrence -- which prides itself as an island of progressivism in an otherwise traditional state -- would not only allow, but actively fund and support, such a facility. Very disappointing.
  • I brought my two young children to check this out...which is part of Kansas City's Passport to Adventure books...what a disappointment. This place was disgusting. A parrot who bites if you get too close and squawks loudly? The smell alone made us leave as quickly as possible. There was a solar display that seemed as though it was intended for small children to investigate, but all over the display were signs asking you not to touch anything. Dirt all around, rubber stamps that didn't work, and frankly, seeing the birds that are kept in captivity was heartbreaking. The only cool parts were the cat (who wasn't in a cage), and a rabbit we saw outdoors in nature. I don't understand the positive reviews.
  • This is an awesome place to take the kidos. Completly free & very educational. They have 2 beautiful bald eagles and even a baby alligator! After we visit the animals inside, we take the trails to Mary's Lake. It's a large pond with tons of wild life! There's 2 fishing docks as well! 🐟🐠 πŸ‡ πŸ†πŸΎ 🐒 πŸΈπŸπŸ›πŸŠ
  • This is my favorite park. Lots of walking and biking, a nature center to teach kids, woods to explore and a lake for fishing. (Don't eat the fish)
  • Small, but a lot packed into a visit! Great trails, nicely kept exhibits, overall fun and FREE place to visit. Kid/family friendly.
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