Sunday, October 4, 2009

El Dorado Nature Center

Call me a geek, but virtually nothing excites me more than finding a new patch of Southern California to explore. The survival of the natural world amidst the miles of concrete is thrilling. 

I'm still aflutter weeks after my family's first trip to El Dorado Nature Center in Long Beach. (If you don't live nearby, this place is worth the drive.) 

The nature center sits on nearly 100 acres of parkland sandwiched between the 605 and the San Gabriel River. Two miles of easy trails wind through a mix of exotic and native plants.

You'll enjoy easy bird and turtle watching around the two lakes. I never tire of watching snowy egrets (below). 

Park staff--and volunteers, no doubt--have done some admirable restoration of native plants here. You'll know you've reached a good patch when the air becomes especially fragrant. Be sure to have any kidlets take a good whiff. (Below, my son is sniffing white sage.)

On our recent visit, we enjoyed watching a red tailed hawk land on a nearby power tower, ground squirrels filling their cheeks with acorns (below), and checking out the rosy boa inside the nature center.

In addition to two snakes, the nature center features animal pelts, live bugs, animal shells and skeletons, and other educational exhibits. My son did not want to leave.

If you've got more time, take your bikes or a picnic to the adjacent El Dorado Regional Park. Or simply watch men piloting sail boats in the little lake. Your seven dollar admission ($5 on weekdays; free if you don't arrive by car) is good at both locations.

We had so much fun, we've made a note to return with bikes and pick up the San Gabriel River Bike Trail from this spot. 

Directions to El Dorado Nature Center. 

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