Low-cost nature center attracts locals

Illustration by Kayce Tynan Photo credit: Kayce Tynan


I had time off and decided to explore Bidwell Park. But I had exhausted sites like One Mile Recreation Center and Bear Hole and wanted something new.

I set off to find the Chico Creek Nature Center, enticed by its award for Best Budget-Friendly Activity in the Best of Chico contest.

Locating a new spot in Bidwell can be a daunting task because of its vast 3,670 acres, but hopefully this new nugget of knowledge will come in handy.

I pulled into the parking lot, grabbed my favorite book and got out to explore. The center, which is comprised of two buildings, is surrounded by huge, Redwood trees that created a much-needed break from the infamous Chico heat on the day I visited.

The larger of the two halls, Howard S. Tucker Hall, aims to educate the public about the geography of Bidwell Park. Guided hikes and park maps are also offered in Tucker Hall in addition to the Living Animal Museum. Both halls are open from 11 a.m to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

I continued my exploration to the right of Tucker Hall where I found a grove of Redwoods with picnic tables— the perfect spot to settle down with my book. The confined atmosphere created by the Redwoods was perfect, because it took me away from my day-to-day life as a student and transported me to a calmer space.

Throughout the year, Tucker Hall houses different art exhibits and currently features Paula Busch’s “Waxwings” display, which was inspired by local birds. The artist utilizes beeswax to carve and inlay images of birds. This exhibit is open Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The price of admission to the nature center is $2 for students and $4 for adults.

This sight also offers volunteering and internships opportunities. Through an internship at the Nature Center, students can earn credit by planning events or assisting with educational programs.

Volunteers can work directly with animals such as hawks, owls and others that need attention in the Living Animal Museum.

Chico has unique undertones of nature ingrained into its culture that I learned about when I moved here from the Bay Area. The Chico Creek Nature Center is a great example of Chico’s commitment to, not only preserving its natural beauty, but teaching others about it so that it may stay preserved for future generations.

I urge other students to go check out this neat spot and see for themselves why it is good to stray from the path and discover something new.

Madeline Merlic can be reached at [email protected] or @MMerlic on Twitter.