Nixon Nature Center
Subfacility of Richard Nixon Park
Nixon Park Nature Center is nestled in a stream valley about 5 miles south of York city. Secluded, yet nearby, this 187-acre park is the only one within the York County Park system set aside solely for wildlife and education allowing only foot traffic on the trails. The property offers habitats ranging from oak-dominated dry hillsides to streamside forests to meadows and old fields. Three clear flowing streams and two small ponds add to the landscape. These aquatic habitats attract their own special animals from stunningly colored wood ducks to lumbering snapping turtles. A system of loop marked trails, offers a combination of habitats, topography, and totals 6 miles.
Nixon Park's centrally located 14,000 square foot Nature Center houses a museum/nature center. The combination of a museum/nature center has something for every nature lover. Housing a fine collection of stuffed, taxidermy mounts, the displays revolve around the nature of York County and animals from Africa, Northern Rockies and the Arctic. Built in two sections (1978 and 1992) the focuses are divided between the two wings. Anyone from outdoors person, to animal lover, to animal planet and discovery channel junky, from pre-schooler to senior learner will find something to suit their tastes.
The original center (1978) houses displays on York County Wildlife. With 80 bird mounts, including 28 waterfowl, 20 birds of prey and 32 songbirds, visitors can get a close look at many of the species that inhabit or visit York County throughout the year. The 20 mammal mounts show past and present inhabitants of the county. Additionally there are displays about: honey bees including a working observation hive, insects, reptiles including several live specimens, local Native American artifacts, mans role in preserving habitat, geology and soil. Housed in a building made to resemble a York County barn there truly is something for everyone's interests. Seven large windows look out on the nature center's feeding stations, stream and woods beyond. During the fall and winter the feeders attract 35 different species per year. Included in this portion of the nature center is the touch room whose revolving themes help young learners explore a habitat or animal group through hands on activities, puppet shows, a dress up box as well as a reading nook.
The main display room (1992) presents a collection of game mounts from around the world. Grouped into three main regions the displays focus on African, Northern Rocky and Arctic wildlife. Primarily the collection of William Koller, a York businessman, a visitor can stare in awe at a Polar Bear or a Kodiak Brown Bear both standing eight feet tall, as well as marvel at the smallest antelope from Africa or peer at a Hippopotamus exploding from its watering hole.
The museum-quality mounts are dramatically displayed in dioramas with fully painted backgrounds. These scenes depicting plant life, geology, climate, and landscapes give the visitor's eye a true feel of these diverse habitats. Display panels containing information about the individual animals as well as different ecological topics surrounding each diorama. Additional displays throughout this portion of the building include something for all ages. Visitors can learn more about specific animals or groups of animals, young visitors can measure themselves to life-size animal drawings, work on their numbers or test their knowledge on the animal alphabet. The soaring dinosaur mural lets you look back at life from a bygone age.
Many of the York County Parks events occur at Nixon Park Nature Center. Check out the events calendars for more information. Groups of ten or more can schedule Naturalist Led programs at the nature center. Visit the education section of the website to learn more.