Nature Center pond

One of the ponds at the El Dorado Nature Center.

For 50 years, Long Beach’s El Dorado Nature Center has been a literal trail blazer when it comes to educating our community about its responsibility to environmental stewardship.

Back in 1969, the property where the El Dorado Nature Center is now was a treeless stretch of flat agricultural land. Thanks to ecologically conscious leaders in the city, the land has become the city of Long Beach’s premier environmental education center.

The El Dorado Nature Center is a part of El Dorado Regional Park, located along the San Gabriel River in northeast Long Beach. The center’s 102-acre wildlife habitat is often referred to as “an island of tranquility in the midst of a busy urban landscape.”

Since its inception, El Dorado Nature Center has been an oasis for all who live in the city. Guided by the Master Plan and supported by grants from the state of California, the Rivers and Mountains Conservancy, and contributions from friends and volunteers, the vision to transform the Nature Center land into a healthy native habitat became a reality.

With the Center's construction came two lakes and a stream to connect them, providing an aquatic element to the indigenous inhabitants of the park and native plant species. The center includes two miles of dirt trail, and a paved access trail that winds through meadows and forested areas. Amphibians, birds, mammals, reptiles and native plants are among the wildlife of the Nature Center.

Meaghan O’Neill, the Department of Park, Recreation & Marine's community services supervisor at El Dorado Park, shared the center’s mission:

“The Nature Center is dedicated to the enhancement of wildlife habitat and the human spirit. Through education, citizen involvement opportunities, habitat restoration, and leisure activities, the Center cultivates among all members of the community a sense of respect, understanding, and stewardship for the natural world.”

El Dorado Nature Center programs connect all ages with wildlife. Pre-schooler and parent programs, youth science workshops, gardening and art classes for adults are offered.

Naturalist-led walks, turtle shows, summer concerts and Audubon Society walks are some of the most popular programs. There are opportunities to become stewards of the Nature Center, beaches and wetlands by participating in clean-up events.

The Center also has a learning laboratory for visitors of all age groups, including teachers and students. The purpose of the learning lab is to cultivate a sense of respect for, and understanding of, the natural world.

Programs include a variety of science discovery tours that include hands-on investigation. A variety of teacher workshops, science classes and many environmental programs are hosted there as well.

The "Beetle Brigade" educational program for preschoolers is one of the most popular. What makes this program unique is that this nature awareness program offers an opportunity to witness animal behavior. Children can observe feathered, furry and scaly creatures while taking part in the Beetle Brigade.

The El Dorado Nature Center arranges special annual events as part of their volunteer activities. Among them is the International Coastal Cleanup, which invites people to join citizens from around the world to clean up beaches and wetlands. This fosters protection of the marine environment.

Teachers and other professionals are part of the center's special events. Audubon Bird Walk, Butterfly Walk, Adult Nightlife Walk, Family Nightlife Walk, and Evening Campfire are among the activities staged for families and adults.

Through education, citizen involvement opportunities, habitat restoration and leisure activities, the center, for almost 50 years has encouraged a sense of obligation to, and stewardship of, the natural world.

El Dorado Nature Center is at 7550 E. Spring St. Trails are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays, and the museum is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. the same days. Entrance to the center is free, but there is a charge to park.

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