tanglewood nature center and museum


Tour our Nature Center exhibits and the Lodge above!

What to expect when you visit


Arrival

There is a gravel parking lot, with two spaces reserved for handicapped parking closest to the sidewalk that leads to our front door. There is a secondary parking lot near the building that provides easier access to the birds of prey. All parking is free. 

Admission to the Nature Center is free. 

The Nature Center is self-guided. There is no reception desk. When you enter through the main door, you can proceed directly into the exhibit hall, to the restrooms, or to the gift shop. 

If you would like staff assistance or have a question (about an animal, what trail to hike, or more) please visit the gift shop and ring the bell. 

Many visitors choose to head directly to the trails. (Trail maps and detailed descriptions here.) The trailhead has a kiosk with a trail map, cautionary signs, and event posters. The trails are free. Trails are open dawn to dusk, every day of the year. Dogs are not permitted on the trails. 

What is there to do?

The Nature Center is yours to explore, at your own pace! Visitors can stroll through the exhibit hall, which includes both a "darkened forest" with taxidermied native animals representative of our temperate oak-hickory forest. The remainder of the exhibit hall houses over 40 species of live animals, ranging from arthropods to reptiles to mammals! There is an observation bee hive and visitors can see the bees crawling through a transparent tube to fly out of the nature center and pollinate outdoors. There are often touchable teaching objects like pelts, antlers, bones, and feathers for families to learn from. Educational posters and informative placards are throughout the hall. Walking through the exhibit hall and viewing the animals is a favorite activity for many families.  

We offer a variety of drop-in programs throughout the year, for families and for adults, ranging from guided hikes, to owl walks, to raptor programs, to homeschool science programs, to pre-school literacy programs. Please check out our Event page to see what's coming up for your visit.

We do not offer daily guided tours or animal feeding demonstrations. Depending on the timing of your visit, you may encounter one of our incredible volunteers or staff feeding the animals, and please feel welcome to ask questions and enjoy the moment! Feeding times vary depending on volunteer and staff schedules.

If you are visiting with a group and would like to schedule a program with one of our education staff, we'd be thrilled to do a presentation or program about the environment! We generally do 90 minute programs for groups - these must be scheduled in advance with our Executive Director

In winter months, snowshoes for children and adults are available to rent. 

How long will I be there?

We find that visitors generally spend around 20 minutes exploring the exhibit hall. More animals reside outside - our rehabilitated birds of prey have outdoor enclosures that are accessible via a concrete sidewalk. Visitors generally spend around 10-15 minutes visiting the birds of prey.  

Visitors generally spend between an hour and three hours on the trails.  

What kind of animals do you have? Why do you have animals here?

Many of our native animals are here because they have become too habituated to humans and would not be able to survive in the wild. We also have many non-native animals, ranging from rainforest creatures to desert species. These animals are not native to our region, but they help us to teach visitors about specialized adaptations, the diversity of habitats and biomes on our planet, and the conservation challenges animals face around the globe. 

The birds of prey (owls, hawks, vultures, falcons) live with us because they are non-releasable due to injury or imprinting on humans. These birds could not survive in the wild, but they are able to live happy and enriched lives in captivity. 

Many of the animals on display are animal ambassadors that can visit your school, scout troop, camp, or community center. Animals, like all living things, change, grow, and pass away. And our animals may be out on programs, in a different location due to weather, off-exhibit for training or for quiet rest, so there may be different animals on view from visit to visit. 

Food and Drink

There is no cafeteria; we do not sell refreshments. There are water bottle refilling stations in the hallway. We have reusable water bottles for purchase. 

There is no indoor space for guests to eat. If you wish to have a snack or a lunch on your visit, we have a picnic pavilion by a pond for guests to use. It is first-come first-served, so there may be other visitors at the picnic tables when you arrive. You are welcome to bring a blanket and have a picnic on our lawns or alongside our trails. There are no trash or recycling bins by the picnic pavilion - picnics are carry-in carry-out. 

Restrooms 

There are handicap accessible restrooms inside the Nature Center. Access to the restrooms is limited to Nature Center open hours (9am-4pm Tuesday through Friday, 10am-4pm Saturdays). On Sundays, Mondays, and after 4pm, there are no restrooms available for visitors. 

Accessibility

The Nature Center main entrance comes at the end of a sidewalk about 100 feet in length. It is fairly level. The Nature Center main hall, exhibit hall, auditorium, gift shop, and restrooms are all on one level and are wheelchair accessible from the main entrance.

The birds of prey outdoors are accessible to visitors who can negotiate a paved sidewalk with slight gradients of rise and fall from aviary to aviary. The sidewalk has four shallow steps made of concrete with a handrail at one end - visitors who are comfortable with stairs can finish the bird loop, and visitors who are not comfortable with steps can return the way they came to their starting point. The bird loop is not immediately or easily handicap accessible from within the nature center; visitors with mobility limitations can either exit through the main entrance, proceed out the front sidewalk, and go around the building either on lawn or on the gravel driveway to access the birds, or if they prefer, drive down to park by the bird loop. Visitors are welcome and encouraged to park in the lower lot for ease of access to the birds of prey and the concrete sidewalk. 

The trails are rugged and rustic. They are often narrow in wooded sections (trail width ranges from 2 ft-4 ft depending on vegetation growth, time of year, and terrain).  The trails have some significant elevation change (especially on the Red Trail) and the footing is uneven, with rocks and roots throughout. There are no wheelchair accessible trails. The front lawn by the pond may be more accessible though there is a gradient to the lawn, and during rainy periods, the ground will become very soft and muddy. 



    Nature Center and Museum location:
    443 Coleman Avenue Elmira NY 14903

    Phone: (607) 732-6060




    Nature Center and Museum hours: OPEN Tuesday-Friday, 9am-4pm, and Saturday 10am-4pm. CLOSED Sunday-Monday. Trails are open dawn to dusk year-round.

    Admission to the Nature Center and Museum is FREE to all. Please consider becoming a member of Tanglewood!

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