Dallas Fort Worth Nature Centers

Our guide of Dallas Fort Worth DFW Nature Centers and Preserves can provide hours of fun and entertainment for the whole family.  Most of the over 100 cities in the Dallas Fort Worth DFW Metroplex have set aside untouched land to provide a natural habitat for wildlife, and native plants and trees to thrive in our populace area. See our history of the land and visit the wildlife by planning a visit to one of the Nature Preserves today.
Cedar Hill Nature Preserve (Cedar Hill, TX): In 1854, John Anderson Penn settled in the rugged cedar-covered hills of southwest Dallas County - an area known as the Cedar Mountains. Today, remnants of the original Penn Farm survive intact in the confines of Cedar Hill State Park. Cedar Hill State Park is a 1,826 acre urban nature preserve located on the 7500 acre Joe Pool Reservoir. The Park's proximity to major metropolitan cities makes it an ideal destination for families who want to enjoy the great outdoors without spending precious time driving.

Cedar Ridge Preserve (Dallas, TX): At an elevation of 755 feet, Cedar Ridge Preserve (formerly the Dallas Nature Center) is a slice of the hill country just 20 minutes outside Dallas. Located at 7171 Mountain Creek Parkway, Dallas, Texas 75249, Cedar Ridge Preserve is a not-for-profit natural habitat of 633 acres featuring 10 miles of hiking trails, a native plant nursery, butterfly gardens, and picnic areas. Hours: Sunrise to Sunset, Tuesday – Sunday.

The Connemara Conservancy (Plano, TX), a land trust founded in 1981, is dedicated to the preservation and protection of open spaces in North Central Texas. From an initial gift of 72 acres on the border of Allen and Plano, the Conservancy has grown to encompass conservation easements throughout North Central Texas. This conservancy is a 72-acre nature preserve for hiking and picnics in the mist of the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex. 

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden (Dallas, TX): Set beside White Rock Lake in sight of downtown's gleaming spires, the Arboretum features 66 superbly landscaped acres of towering trees, fragrant gardens, and lush lawns that beckon you out of the city's bustle into a serene and beautiful world. There's something to see year 'round, from the gorgeous blooms of springtime to the vivid colors of fall.

Dinosaur Valley State Park (Glen Rose, TX), located just northwest of Glen Rose in Somervell County, is a 1524.72-acre, scenic park set astride the Paluxy River. The land for the park was acquired from private owners under the State Parks Bonds Program during 1968 and opened to the public in 1972.

Eisenhower State Park (Denison, TX), with 423.1 acres, is located in Grayson County, northwest of Denison on the shores of Lake Texoma. It was acquired in 1954 by a Department of Army lease, which extends until 2004, and was opened to the public in 1958. Grassy uplands, including rare remnants of the tall-grass prairie, terminate in rocky, shoreline bluffs and woodlands. A large variety of colorful wildflowers bloom throughout the growing season, March through November. Several wildflowers are identified by signs along the roadside in selected areas. A nature guide is available that identifies some of the trees along the trail. A wide variety of trees includes oak, ash, elm, cedar, dogwood, cottonwood, soapberry, locust, redbud, persimmon, and bois d'arc. A variety of mammals at the park include armadillo, bat, beaver, coyote, deer, fox, mink, nutria, opossum, rabbit, raccoon, skunk, and squirrel. Wintering bald eagles, pelicans, loons, and other waterfowl may be observed in the area.

Elm Fork Nature Preserve (Carrollton, TX) was purchased as a woodright in 1861 by the Bramblitt Family. The land was never clear-cut and in 1986 the 40 acres were given to the city of Carrollton as a self-contained ecosystem, virtually undisturbed. The preserve offers an Interpretive Center with a nature education library, which is open for scheduled classes. Trails are open for hikes daily from dawn to dusk. A pond, environmental education classes and more are offered at the facility.

Fort Worth Botanic Garden (Fort Worth, TX): The Fort Worth Botanic Garden, the oldest botanic garden in Texas, is home to over 2,500 species of native and exotic plants that flourish in its 21 specialty gardens. Conservatory houses exotic and tropical plants.

Fort Worth Nature Center (Fort Worth, TX): The Fort Worth Nature Center is just off the old Jacksboro Highway -- Highway 199. Take 820 to the 199 exit, go northwest across the Lake Worth bridge and you'll see the signs a couple of miles down the road on the right.  This wildlife refuge has more than 20 miles of hiking trails, buffalo, and many whitetail deer.  If you're still not familiar with the 6700-acre refuge -- and surprisingly few people are -- then it's time to find and explore it. The huge wilderness area is concealed in the most unlikely of places -- within the city limits of Fort Worth.  Find out more about Bison Feeding and Hay Rides.

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center (Glen Rose, TX)- Take a leisurely drive through Africa right in the heart of Texas at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. You'll see giraffes, ostriches and zebras, to name a few, who sometimes poke their heads right in your window! Spend hours enjoying close encounters with endangered and exotic wildlife such as addax antelope, reticulated giraffe, and Grant's zebra. Set your own pace through the 9.5 mile paved scenic drive observing the animals wild and uninhibited just as nature intended with nature trails, petting pasture, store, restaurant, picnic area and playground. Located in North Central Texas, three miles southwest of Glen Rose off Highway 67, Fossil Rim is an easy drive from surrounding major cities. Just a one hour drive from Fort Worth, one and one half hour from Dallas, and less than two hours from Waco.

Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary (McKinney, TX): Our 289-acre site enchants visitors of all ages with hiking trails, natural science exhibits, education programs, live animals, a Native Plant garden, the Heard Nature Store, and more! Open daily. One Nature Place, McKinney, TX (972) 562-5566

International Exotic Feline Sanctuary, Inc. (Boyd, TX): Northwest of Fort Worth, IEFS was founded in Boyd, Texas in 1988 as a 501(c)(3), nonprofit tax-exempt corporation. IEFS's current mission is the care and welfare of its feline inhabitants, as well as educating the public about their needs. The inhabitants include bobcats, cougars, jaguars, leopards, lions and tigers, among other species. As of April 2002, sixty-eight felines call IEFS home, with spacious habitats, pools and houses. The employees and volunteers who care for the felines give of their time and talents to ensure the quality of life to which they are entitled.

Mustang Trail (Farmers Branch, TX): Mustang Trail is a 9 mile circular route in Farmers Branch which follows the city streets and passes 22 historic points. The trail starts at Historical Park in Farmers Branch.  The Historical Park is nestled within 22 acres that trace the proud heritage of Farmers Branch, from the 1840s through the 1940s. The Gilbert House, built in 1856-1857, is the oldest rock structure in Northeast Texas still on its original foundation. Other local historic structures on the grounds include the 1937 Dodson House, home of the first Mayor of Farmers Branch; a one-room school that was once part of the Farmers Branch school from 1900-1915; and the original Farmers Branch railroad depot, built in 1877. Structures from outside of Farmers Branch have also been moved into the Park, such as the two log structures that comprise the log culture area; the lovely 1885 Queen Anne Victorian Cottage; and the circa 1890 Methodist Church. (972) 406-0184. Free. 

River Legacy Parks (Arlington, TX): River Legacy Parks is the product of a public/private partnership between River Legacy Foundation and the city of Arlington.  Founded in 1988, our mission is to preserve and enhance land along the Trinity River and its tributaries as an extraordinary recreational, educational and natural resource. In June, 1990, Phase I opened to the public. More than $3 million is spent enhancing the property with trails, river overlooks, picnic and multipurpose areas, a playground, and a concession/restroom building. Roads are built, and signage and lighting are installed. Phase II adds a grand picnic pavilion, shade and trail enhancements, and extensive planting of trees.  1996 Construction is completed on the $5 million River Legacy Living Science Center, which opens to the public on July 2. In 2000,  Additional land donations over the years bring total acreage to 1,200 and the completion of four additional miles of paved trails.

Texas Discovery Gardens (Dallas, TX): Located at historic Fair Park in Dallas, Texas Discovery Gardens is a year-round urban oasis filled with natural wonders for visitors of all ages. Ten different themed areas include a butterfly habitat, native wildlife pond, scent garden, shade garden and heirloom garden. The first certified organic public gardens in the state, Texas Discovery Gardens features spectacular native and adapted plants grown using sustainable methods that conserve water and protect the environment.

Texas State Railroad State Park (Palestine, TX), 499 acres, is located in Anderson and Cherokee Counties, between the Cities of Palestine and Rusk just a short drive south east of Dallas. The railroad was acquired by Legislative Act in 1971 and was restored by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, with help from the Texas Department of Corrections, and was opened to the public in 1976. Passengers may board the historic trains at either Rusk or Palestine. Both ends of the line have turn-of-the-century style train stations. The trip takes 1 1/2 hours to reach the opposite station. Once visitors have arrived, they have an hour to enjoy lunch, browse through the park's train store, ride paddle boats, or take a short nature hike. Passengers then reboard for the return trip home. The State Park's 50-mile, round-trip steam engine excursions take 4 hours.

Windmill Hill Nature Preserve (Desoto, TX) The Windmill Hill Nature Preserve is located at the Southwest corner of Duncanville and Wintergreen roads and was established in 1993 by the City of Desoto. Located at Wintergreen and Duncanville roads, Windmill Hill is a great place for hiking and observing nature at it's finest. Wind along its foot trails, viewing the well-preserved flowers and fauna of the region, and soon you're lost in another world. This is no quick-step hiking place. Unless you're looking for a leisurely walk and literally prepared to stop and smell the flowers, don't bother. Dedicated in 1993, the preserve is open to the public, free, from 6 a.m. to sundown daily.

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