Nature Center pond

One of the ponds at the El Dorado Nature Center.

El Dorado Nature Center is a place to learn about the birds and the bees — and the turtles, frogs, plants and trees.

El Dorado Nature Center is a place to get away from the city, to walk on paths through woods, around ponds and more. The 105-acre preserve once was a bean field. Now it can boast of 50 years providing escape from urban stress; 50 years of environmental education and 50 years of fun.

On Friday, the summer solstice, gates to the center will open for a 50th birthday party that will include stories from Laura Bosworth of the Long Beach Storytellers, songs from folk singer Shayna Adler and dances by the Sirena Serpentina troupe.

The party kicks off a summer of "50 ways to find your center," a riff on the classic Paul Simon song. There are activities almost every day from Friday, June 21, to Aug. 31.

Friday's kickoff party is free. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. and the entertainment will continue in the center's amphitheater until 8 p.m. It's a family-friendly affair, and people are urged to bring picnics, lawn chairs and blankets to enjoy the evening.

"Each year, people of all ages come to El Dorado Nature Center to reconnect with nature and learn more about our local ecosystem," Mayor Robert Garcia wrote in a statement. "This place is a wonderful asset for our city."

The Nature Center entrance is at 7550 E. Spring St., across Spring from the entrance to El Dorado Regional Park. There is a small parking charge.

Other special events in the summer include craft fairs, outdoor concerts, family nightlife walks, education stations and outdoor movies, to mention a few. Most activities are free; those that do charge cost between $3 and $5.

To see a complete schedule and other information, go to

—Harry Saltzgaver

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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