Wildlife, up close; a singing forest; and a life-sized eagle's nest...
The Wild Center is a 115-acre campus of outdoor trails and immersive indoor exhibits with hands-on learning for all ages. It has gained international attention because of its distinction as one of the world's best natural history museums, celebrating and teaching about the Adirondacks' fascinating natural world and cultural traditions.
Most people will recognize the Wild Walk, but there's a lot more to The Wild Center, especially its commitment to the indigenous history and culture of the Haudenosaunee people who first inhabited and shaped the Adirondacks. Each exhibit, interesting for all ages, is designed with children in mind so that they can see, touch, and even smell things on their level. Here are some highlights and exciting new additions for the summer 2019 season.
Fun fact: The Wild Center is a green museum. From the lighting, to the building materials, to the water supply, The Wild Center uses sustainable and environmentally friendly ways to power itself. You can learn more about it during your trip there.
The Wild Walk
40 feet overlooking the Oxbow pond and the Seward Range of the Adirondack Mountains--with a view of Whiteface Mountain--sits an over-sized eagle's nest, replicating the largest ever found in nature with a 10 foot diameter. It's just one feature of The Wild Center's famous Wild Walk, a trail that takes you across the treetops to experience a four-story twig tree house, swinging bridges, an over-sized spider's web hanging 24-feet off the ground, and a recreated dead tree's core. Every aspect of the Wild Walk is interactive. You can jump in the center of the spider's web, stand among the treetops in the eagle's nest, and walk inside the dead birch tree to experience the core, which, like real dead trees, is actually brimming with life--animal life that is. Dead trees provide food and serve as shelter to all kinds of animals, including bears.
Fun fact: That dead tree, that feels and smells so real, is cement covered with white pine. And don't be fooled. That bear isn't real.
This walk through the woods is accompanied by an immersive place-based soundtrack composed by Peter M. Wyer. The choral music, inspired by the Adirondack wilderness, and emerging throughout the trees shifts with its natural environment, including the weather and each footstep taken. You'll never hear the same thing twice. New this year is a spoken word story woven in with the music.
Fun fact: There are so many ways to enjoy the surrounding forest and Oxbow and Raquette lake at The Wild Center. They offer rentals on canoes, SUPs, and snowshoes.
The Wild Center is wild with wildlife. They have around 400 hundred animals that rotate through exhibits as well as an animal care staff that nurtures sick animals back into healthy, happy lives. Lady Jay, for example, is their Blue Jay that was rescued from a well meaning but ignorant owner who didn't feed Lady Jay the protein she needed as a baby. But, under The Wild Center's care, Lady Jay is now thriving.
The otter condos, located outdoors, consist of an underground system that connects their condos to their indoor exhibit. The otters can freely move between their sleeping habitats, stocked with hammocks, to the exhibit where they swim through caves and ham it up for visitors.
The animal rescue team has a falconry program where visitors are invited in to see up close how these birds of prey hunt. This program is held out on the trails and in the Flammer theater. Don't expect to see any cages here.
Fun fact: Otters sleep on average 16 hours a day. Don't think you can reach your hand out to pet an otter. They have a bite that's as sharp and powerful as a German Shepherd. And they stink! But watching them swim is so cute!
Ways of Knowing
These four exhibits dedicated to indigenous culture and history were created in partnership with the Akwesasne Cultural Center, The Six Nations Indian Museum and the Native North American Travelling College. The exhibits include contemporary art by Akwesasne Mohawk artists, cultural artifacts from indigenous Haudenosaunee people, and educational experiences that teach visitors about the culture of the first people here and how they synchronized their lives with this vast and diverse mountainous landscape, proving that there are millions of ways to know the Adirondacks.
Fun fact: According to Akwesasne tradition, "Our original instructions as human beings was to care for the Earth and maintain the relationship we have with the natural world. The relationship we have with the natural world is just as important as the relationship we have with our families."
This summer, watch raptors soar right above your head, listen to the trees sing, and land inside a spider's web. The Wild Center is a must-see stop on your Adirondack adventure.