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Visitor Center

Ecosystem Gallery          |          River Overlook          |          Nature Discovery Area

Bur Oak Theater          |          Naturalist Station          |          Nature Center Store

ecogal1In the Visitor Center, take time to explore the Ecosystem Gallery. Our hands-on exhibits will answer your questions about Rivers, Wetlands, Fields and Woodlands and get you up close to some exciting sights and sounds of nature. If you’re looking for history, you’ll enjoy two wall murals, depicting Native American life in our local fields and forests long ago. Accompanying displays of reproductions and artifacts include a full size birchbark canoe, built at Chippewa Nature Center in 1976.

ecogal2Children especially enjoy the “Kids Conifer Corner.” This reproduced huge white pine tree is full of puppets, books, puzzles and more! People of all ages also love touching a fur or shell on one of the Discovery Stations, listening to animal songs and calls at the sound stations and seeing animal mounts on display. Feeders in the Wildlife Viewing Area provide food for many birds, squirrels and other critters, which you can see through one way windows from comfortable benches. An updated sightings board lists animals spotted each month and an informational display helps you figure out what you’re looking at and gives you feeding tips for your own backyard. After you complete your visit to the Ecosystem Gallery, we invite you take a walk to view our most exciting “exhibit” of all – nature outdoors!

wvaWVA-at-nightThe Wildlife Viewing Area is a favorite spot for many of CNC’s visitors where they can see and hear wildlife through one-way glass and speakers. Often seen are birds, squirrels, rabbits and more. For some evening programs, the outdoor space is lit with a red light for a chance at spotting nocturnal wildlife.

River Overlook


As the Pike swims, the Pine River begins 100 miles upstream, flowing from Pine Lake (south of Remus in Mecosta County), through Alma. Dropping 370 feet, it drains 390 square miles.


Only 200 yards away, the Pine River joins the Chippewa River. A Walleye would swim another 3 miles to reach the Tittabawassee River at the Tridge in downtown Midland, and 51 miles to the Saginaw Bay at Bay City, which is only 30 feet lower than here.

Nature Discovery Area

CNC’s youngest visitors will enjoy the Nature Discovery Area with nature-themed activities, books and crafts, as well as skulls and furs.

mountsAbove the Nature Discovery Area are mounts of caribou, moose and elk, allowing CNC to share the story of a few of the larger members of the deer family that lived in this area in the past. The mounts were generously donated by Dale Brockway, a Research Ecologist with the USDA Forest Service.

Bur Oak Theater

Bur-Oak-interiorEnjoy short (2-7 minute) interpretive videos in the Bur Oak Theater such as:

  • Trails at CNC
  • Connecting to Nature through Farming
  • Floods of Midland’s Past
  • Wonders of the Watershed
  • Spring at CNC
  • Summer at CNC
  • 50 Years of Connecting to Nature
  • Ice Flyer

Naturalist Station

A naturalist is available to answer visitor’s questions about the natural world in person, via email, by phone or through social media 7 days a week.

Nature Center Store

Little Free Library

littlefreelibraryOn your next trip to CNC’s Visitor Center, check out the Little Free Library! Foliage, flowers and butterflies carved by woodworking student Clester Croslin are woven into this beautifully created library.

How does the Little Free Library work?
We encourage visitors to take a book and return it to CNC or to another Little Free Library. Or keep it, and bring another back to donate. As a Nature Center, we encourage visitors to exchange nature related material. The concept is based on an honor system. No fines, no library cards.

Thanks to Jeff and Laura Havens for providing the funds and commitment to build 15 additional Little Free Libraries distributed throughout the Midland community. With the help of local artists and Creative 360, each library is uniquely designed. The Midland-based project joined 40,000 Little Free Libraries worldwide as of 2016.