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Tamarack Nature Center
5287 Otter Lake Rd. White Bear Township, MN 55110
Admission: $0.00
Trails and Discovery Hollow and Garden are free and open to the public. Please sign in at the main office before or after your visit. Donations are gratefully accepted. Some Programs have fees.
Scroll to the Bottom to find a Registration Link
Hours of Operation:
Mon. 09:00 AM – 04:00 PM
Tue. 09:00 AM – 04:00 PM
Wed. 09:00 AM – 04:00 PM
Thu. 09:00 AM – 04:00 PM
Fri. 09:00 AM – 04:00 PM
Sat. 09:00 AM – 04:00 PM
Sun. 12:00 PM – 04:00 PM
Discovery Hollow Nature Play Area & Garden; Open daily: 9 a.m.-Dusk;

Tamarack Nature Center is a 320-acre nature preserve. It is technically part of the Located in Bald Eagle-Otter Lakes Regional Park, but it is really quite separate from most of the rest of the park, It offers both free and paid nature education programs and is home to the incredible nature playground, Discovery Hollow. Entrance to the park is free and off-street parking is offered near the nature center. Dogs are not allowed in the nature center portion of the park.

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 Discovery Hollow

Discovery Hollow is a nature play area located in the nature center’s backyard. It is open to the public from 9am to dusk. Kids can play with wood to build a tree fort, climb the cliffs of the Overlook, play in the stream and garden, and crawl around the Hobbit House.

Girl balancing on large log at Discovery Hollow, Tamarack Nature Center

Tamarack Nature Center Indoor Activities for Kids

The visitor center is full of fun activities for kids and families. Kids can get an up-close look at animals that would be found in the park, including turtles, snakes, salamanders, and frogs. They can also see a display of a honey bee hive. Cuddle up in the sitting area with nature-themed books, puzzles and toys. Drop In Discovery Stations are often held indoors.

Visitors can access the building Monday through Saturday from 9am-4pm and Sunday from noon to 4pm (accept holidays). The grounds, including Discovery Hollow, the garden and trails, are open daily even when the building is closed.

Child on rock structure at Discovery Hollow, Tamarack Nature Center

Look for Free Summer Adventures at Tamarack

Tamarack traditionally offers several free programs during summer. Including, Meet the Gardener, when visitors can help with planting, tending and tasting the harvest. Families can also go on a Discovery Walk through the prairie or attend other programs.

baby crawling in teepee at Discovery Hollow, Tamarack Nature Center

1. Discovery Walks – Naturalist Led Exploration

Tamarack has not brought back its free Saturday morning Drop-In Discovery Stations as of spring of 2023. However, they are now offering Saturday Discovery Walks. These free programs do require registration. Like Discovery Stations, these walks are led by volunteers and cover fun subjects like birds, butterflies, prairies and more. Upcoming topics can be found on our calendar or on Tamarack’s website.

Kids playing in muddy stream at Discovery Hollow, Tamarack Nature Cente

2. Tamarack Nature Center Trails with Kids

The nature center has several walking trails ranging from .12 miles to 2½ miles. These trails are strictly for human pedestrians; bikes and dogs are not allowed. Some of the trails are open for cross-country skiing and/or snowshoeing during the winter. Trails from shortest to longest include:

  • 0.12-mile Turtle Pass Trail
  • 0.42-mile Chickadee Trail Loop
  • 0.8-mile Deer Pass Trail
  • 1.25-mile Acorn Loop
  • 2.5-mile Dragonfly Loop:

3. Meet the Gardener – Garden Stewardship Program

If  you are new to gardening or would like to grow your knowledge, you can meet in Discovery Hollow at Tamarack every Monday during the summer from 10:15 – 11:00 am for Meet the Gardener.  Try your hand a planting and tending the garden at Tamarack and enjoy your fruits of the harvest.

Winter Activities at Tamarack Nature Center

1. Skiing & Snowshoeing:

Tamarack is one of several Ramsey County Parks that keeps cross-country ski trails packed. A Minnesota Ski Pass is required to use these trails for anyone 16 and over. Visitors do not need a special permit to snowshoe.

Both skis and snowshoes can be rented at the Tamarack Winter Recreation Rental Shack (part of the nature center building), between mid December and early March. Note: that the rental shack closes when trail conditions are poor.

2. Sledding:

Tamarack has a designated sledding hill located in the Discovery Hollow Nature Play Area.

Tamarack Nature Center Birthday Party Packages

Tamarack offers both Naturalist-led birthday parties and space rental for private birthday parties. Packages for parties led by professional environmental educators are generally available for 2-hour blocks on weekends. Parents can also call for weekday availability. If you prefer space rental only, this option is available also.

Find this and more parties: Twin Cities Birthday Parties for Kids: Party in the Park.

Tamarack Nature Center Summer Camps

Tamarack offers 4-day summer camps during the summer months. Find updated information and prices in our annual summer camp guide.

Tamarack Nature Center, Summer Camp
Summer Camp. Image courtesy of Tamarack Nature Center

Tamarack Nature Center Preschool

The nature center works with White Bear Lake school district to offer ECFE programs and My Nature Preschool. Preschool is half days for 2-4 days per week.

Find more preschools like this: FFTC’s Guide to Twin Cities Preschools.

When we visited Tamarack we couldn’t have felt more welcomed by the staff and volunteers. We looked out the floor to ceiling windows at the wetland habitat in front of us; we enjoyed the beehive (that was safely behind plexiglass); and we built with the tree shaped blocks.

It was low-key and invigorating at the same time. Environmental education programs add that much more thrill for learning and experiencing nature. Stations are open to all ages, but please note that children should be accompanied by an adult.

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