Eagles, ducks, pelicans, herons–you’ll see so many varieties of waterfowl when you visit the new educational exhibit at Farmington Bay Nature Center. While the waterfowl conservation area itself isn’t new, the constructed buildings that make up the nature center are. They’re free to visit, and there’s lots to see—inside and out.
One of the first things you’ll want to do is look at the indoor exhibits at Farmington Bay Nature Center. There aren’t a ton, but it’s the best way to educate yourself on the types of birds you’ll see outside. Staff are happy to answer questions, and there are binoculars you can use to look out the windows.
Once you’ve had a look around inside, it’s time to venture outside. Take your time, and enjoy walking on the trails. You have three to choose from. We recommend you take the longest one, since it’s an easy 1.6 miles, part of which is on a boardwalk. In the summer, you may want to bring water, but this trail is flat, so you likely won’t get too thirsty. It is full sun, however.
Some of the things you’ll see are nesting boxes. Depending on the timing of your visit, you’ll see birds using those boxes or provided nesting habitats. During our recent visit, January 2019, we saw herons nesting on tall posts (see image above). They’re fun to watch, and we spent several minutes observing them from the parking lot.
Nearby trails also lead to calm waters on the bay and lookout points where you can quietly watch for waterfowl or animal life. I highly recommend you bring a camera. Phone cameras are fine, but you’ll likely see lots of photographers with fancy equipment out capturing the scenery. This area is popular for outdoor photography.
Once you’ve enjoyed the center’s surrounding premises, you can also take a scenic drive nearby to see so many birds you’ll be thrilled. So go back to your vehicle, and drive back the way you came. Once you near the electric power towers, slow down to spot these two signs. That’s where you’ll turn south. Follow the dirt route. In the spring, it’s likely pretty muddy, but you won’t have any troubles driving it, and it’s accessible by car. Follow for a few miles until you see the lake and ALL the waterfowl. It’s usually pretty thrilling! We live nearby and visit at least every season. There are so many ducks, geese, and other waterfowl to see. It’s so much better than seeing them at the zoo or in an enclosed aviary.
Ironically, we had visited the trails at the Nature Center many, many times before we understood we could also drive out to see the most important part. Nobody told us, and it wasn’t well marked at the time. New signs in the area now help. So don’t miss the scenic drive!
We hope you enjoy your visit to the Nature Center. Here’s some more information to help you have a fun, successful visit:
Tips for Visiting Farmington Bay Nature Center
NOTE: The official name is the George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Wildlife Education Center. So don’t be confused; it’s one and the same.
Location. The Nature Center is at 1157 South Waterfowl Way (approximately 1700 West Glovers Lane), Farmington. Near the Centerville/Farmington border. Click here for more instructions. The drive/causeway is about 1/4 mile to the east. Look for signs indicated above.
Hours of operation:
Tuesday thru Friday, 9:30 am to 4:30 pm
Saturday, 7:30 am to 3 pm
Sunday and Monday, closed
Price of admission. Free.
Parking. Plenty of paved parking at the Nature Center.
Restrooms. They are provided at the main building, as well as a couple of porta-potties outside.
Concessions. None. Drinking fountains are located near the restrooms at the main building.
Picnic facilities. Nope.
Classrooms and meeting areas. Yes. Contact email@example.com for more information.
Community events. Yes, see the events calendar here.
No dogs allowed, plus more. This is NEW. We used to see dogs and their humans out for walks on the grounds all the time. And dogs were allowed then, but this is no longer the case. Dogs, horses, bicycles, and motorized vehicles are not allowed on the trails. This is posted plainly at the beginning of each trail. When you’re at the Nature Center, you’ll likely see DWR vehicles. This area is patrolled. So don’t violate the rules.
Wear sensible walking shoes and clothing. You’ll be walking on dirt paths and boardwalks. They’re well groomed, but you’ll still want sturdy shoes. Plan for the weather, and dress accordingly.
Wheelchair/stroller accessible. The Nature Center is completely accessible for wheels. You could also do a stroller on the 1.6 mile boardwalk. I would not recommend a wheelchair on this route, however, as you’d have to lift the wheelchair up to the boardwalk; it is not a smooth transition, with several inches of gap. Plus much of the trail is gravel that might be hard to navigate.
Drive the causeway. This is where you’ll see all the waterfowl. There’s a lookout hill you can drive up; then drive back down and follow the road to see alongside the lake. We usually go just a short distance, but you can drive as you like.
Bring binoculars and a camera. Although you can borrow a pair in the Nature Center, you’ll most definitely want them on the drive. We forgot our pair and were extremely sorry. So don’t be like us. Bring your binoculars. And you may want to bring your sweet camera with a sweet zoom lens, not just your smart phone. You’re practically guaranteed some amazing shots with each visit.
Did we cover everything? Do you have more questions? Here’s the link to the official website if you need more information, or just give them a call at 801-451-5536.
Find this article helpful? You might also want to read our review about Antelope Island, particularly in the winter to see the bison.
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