Wildlife | Nature Centers
National Wildlife Visitor Center
Clearwater Nature Center
@ Cosca Regional Park
11000 Thrift Rd.
Clinton, MD 20735
Clearwater Nature Center offers a variety of interpretive programs hosted by the facility’s park naturalists. Environmental education is strongly supported at this facility through interesting exhibits, displays, programs, special events, clubs, trips, and volunteer opportunities. A small indoor pond, live animal exhibits, a lapidary laboratory, and seasonal herb and butterfly gardens are some of the unique components of this facility. Explore live mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds of prey (including a bald eagle!) that reside here at the center. Visitors are welcome free of charge. Nominal fees apply for programs.
Merkle State Wildlife Sanctuary & Visitor’s Center
11704 Fenno Rd.
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772
Merkle State Wildlife Sanctury
Simply one of the most beautiful wildlife sites in the state. Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary is the only wildlife sanctuary operated by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. It is the wintering ground for several thousand Canada geese, the largest concentration on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. The sanctuary was named after Edgar Merkle (1900-1984), an active conservationist who devoted much of his life to protecting and providing for wildlife. Many knew him as the founder of Merkle Press in Washington, D.C. (1936), and others knew him as the originator of a goose breeding plan to introduce Canada geese to the western shores of Maryland (1932). Starting with a handful of breeding pairs, a great deal of perseverance, and a habitat improvement plan in mind, Mr. Merkle eventually encouraged thousands of geese to visit the 400-acre Merkle farm to feed and rest. In 1970, the Merkles sold their land, including some donated parcles, to the state. With the acquisition of adjoining tracts, the wildlife refuge now encompasses 1,670 acres.
Mount Rainier Nature/Recreation Center
4701 31st Pl.
Mount Rainier, MD 20712
Mount Rainier Nature/Recreation Center is a unique facility which operates as both a nature center and a recreation center. The facility hosts a variety of nature-related, interpretive programs for visitors of all ages. Programs related to nature study, urban wildlife, urban beautification, and animal care are offered at the center. Mount Rainier Nature/Recreation Center’s programs mix fun with education, making nature exciting to experience.
National Wildlife Visitor Center
US Fish & Wildlife Service
@ Patuxent Research Refuge
10901 Scarlet Tanager Loop
Laurel, MD 20708
The National Wildlife Visitor Center is one of the largest science and environmental education center in the Department of the Interior. This unique facility seeks to impart to young and old alike an increased knowledge of and appreciation for the earth’s vital resources. It highlights the work of professional scientists who strive to improve the condition of wildlife and their habitats. Interactive exhibits focus on global environmental issues, migratory bird studies, habitats, endangered species, creature life cycles and the research tools and techniques used by scientists. The Visitor Center also offers hiking trails, wildlife management demonstration areas, and outdoor education sites for school classes. A large auditorium and meeting rooms can accommodate national and international scientific conferences, environmental meetings, teacher workshops, environmental lectures, and traveling displays.
Watkins Nature Center
@ Watkins Regional Park
301 Watkins Park Dr.
Upper Marlboro, MD 20774
Watkins Nature Center offers something for everyone! Live animal displays feature native owls, hawks, reptiles, amphibians, and insects. The Discovery Cottage gives children the chance to explore the life of a naturalist. Indoor and outdoor ponds, a songbird feeding area, and a squirrel gym that showcases tricks to eating corn on the run entertain our visitors. Visit the Little Shop of Nature for unusual children’s items. Borrow a trail discovery backpack and explore the six miles of easy-to-follow, color-blazed trails.