It’s no secret that Denverites love the outdoors. And with more days of sunshine than anywhere else in the country, we take advantage of the glorious weather and outdoor spaces with our families whenever we can. One of the unique outside spaces our city has to offer is Bluff Lake Nature Center, an urban wildlife refuge and outdoor classroom in Northeast Denver. Located in the heart of the burgeoning Central Park neighborhood, the refuge is home to an abundance of animals and native plants which thrive in a variety of habitats. Bluff Lake is Denver’s largest open space managed as native habitat, and Denver’s only nonprofit nature center, making it the perfect outing for those eager to escape for some calming and energizing moments communing with nature, without having to drive outside the city limits.
Nature Play Stations
In July 2021, Bluff Lake unveiled its new Nature Play Stations, five unique areas designed to engage children of all ages in exploring the outdoors. At the stations, kids can see Bluff Lake from the point of view of a hawk, build shelters using branches, crawl through prairie tunnels, and more. The perfect way to play in nature and wear out kids!
Bluff Lake has a wide selection of “I Spy…” downloadable worksheets at their website and with subjects ranging from spider and insects to animal homes and birds, there is sure to be a subject that will keep your young nature lover intrigued – and learning a few things too. For a more hands-on approach, there is the Bluff Lake Quest, which provides a map to a treasure hunt for different colored beads hid throughout the site that can be found by solving clues. http://www.blufflake.org/events/self-guided-tours-scavenger-hunts
After decades of extensive work to turn the once-polluted extension of the Stapleton Airport, which closed in 1994, into a protected wildlife preserve, over 210 bird species have returned to Bluff Lake and now call the area home. Many an avid bird watcher visits the site to spot Blue Herons, Red-winged Blackbirds, Red-Tailed Hawks, and more. There are many opportunities and resources for beginners, from a printable checklist, free apps with lists of recent Bluff Lake bird sightings, and a free monthly guided bird walk that takes place the first Saturday of each month from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. There are even binoculars available for loan if you don’t have your own. http://www.blufflake.org/events/bird-walks/
Family Adventure Days
Every Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., volunteers bring free giveaways, scavenger hunts, field equipment rentals, games, and activities for both kids and adults to the welcome booth at the entrance to the site. Partner organizations bring hands-on nature learning tools, and plenty of enthusiastic friends of Bluff Lake are available to answer all the questions of an eager child. http://www.blufflake.org/events/family-nature-adventure-days/
Got a child involved in Daisies, Brownies, Juniors, Cadettes, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, or a multi-age troop? Bluff Lake’s environmental educators are there to provide a unique and memorable Scout Field Trip, as they guide scouts through exploration hies and interactive activities. Field trips can be designed to fulfill nature-related badge requirements or customized to a troop’s specific interests. And for those Eagle Scouts looking for their next big project, Bluff Lake accepts two Eagle Scout projects a year. http://www.blufflake.org/scouts/
Bluff Lake Nature Center is open 365 days a year, sunrise to sunset, and is free to the public.
Address: 11255 E. MLK Jr. Blvd, Denver, CO 80238
Phone: (720) 708-4147