Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center. All Rights Reserved.subhead

The staff at Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center is pleased to offer our facilities to school groups and organizations throughout the area. We believe that a well-planned field trip greatly enhances educational experiences. This guide is offered to help you plan your visit. By using this guide, you can make your visit more pleasant, increasing the benefits for you and your group.

About Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center

Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center is the second of four planned nature centers in Arkansas made possible by the 1996 voter passage of Amendment 75, a 1/8th cent Conservation Sales Tax. The Governor Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center in Pine Bluff opened its doors in 2001. Other centers will be located in Fort Smith and in the central Arkansas area.

Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center features a three-story education, exhibit and meeting facility located on 160 acres at 600 E. Lawson Road in Jonesboro. The center adjoins the southern boundary of Craighead Forest Park. The nature center grounds include a 5.5-acre prairie, 2.5-acre pond and approximately 100 acres in woodlands.

The education complex features an exhibit area, observation tower, meeting rooms, Discovery room, auditorium, gift shop and offices. The focus of Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center is the natural history and wildlife of Crowley’s Ridge as well as its contrast to the surrounding Delta.

The complex is designed to help the visitor experience the range of different habitats and encourage exploration of the site. The main level of the center features an exhibit hall and auditorium which present the story of the Ridge’s formation and its wildlife through several hands-on exhibits and a special 16-minute feature film with animation and special effects. A two-story diorama, visible from the main and lower levels of the center, introduces visitors to the special plants, animals, and hydrology of the Ridge landscape. The Habitats Trail, a universally accessible trail and boardwalk can be entered from either the main or lower levels. This trail loops around Willow Pond, taking visitors across a ridge top and man-made levee to the edge of the prairie and back above a seasonally flooded bottomland forest. The Crow’s Nest on the upper level of the center presents a bird’s eye view over the center’s diverse landscape to the Ridge and Delta south of the site.

Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center Hours

Open All Year

8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

1-5 p.m.

Closed Monday, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Admission is free. The Arkansas Game and Fish Nature Centers are funded by Amendment 75, the Conservation Sales Tax.

Planning a Trip to Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center

Teachers and group leaders are requested to schedule their visit to Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center by calling during business hours. Scheduling should be planned well in advance due to the high volume of groups that participate in the educational programs each year. When you call with your reservation, staff members can help you plan a visit that meets your needs and time frame. Allow time for shopping, lunch, and restroom breaks in addition to the presented programs. When you call to schedule a reservation for your group, please be prepared to provide the following information:

  • Several options for dates (have your calendar ready)
  • Your name
  • Organization name, address and phone number
  • Number of children and number of adults
  • Expected arrival time and departure time
  • Desired programs/educational objectives
  • Lunch plans and length of time required for lunch
  • Any necessary accommodations for children or adults with disabilities
  • Grade level, age, or general description of audience

What Should We Wear?

We suggest that your group wear comfortable walking shoes and clothing appropriate for outdoor activities and inclement weather. If it should rain, the tour will still be offered unless there is severe or threatening weather. We will not cancel your reservation due to inclement weather. You must call the center if you prefer to visit another day should it be raining. Alternate indoor activities can be planned in advance. Please have your group dress accordingly. It is strongly suggested that you bring sunscreen and bug repellent in the spring and summer months. If, for some reason, you would prefer to keep your group indoors on the day of your visit, please contact a staff member prior to your reservation date for other programming options.

Can We Shop?

Yes! Our gift shop is well stocked to reinforce your educational experiences here at the nature center. We offer a wide selection of gifts, books, and nature supplies. If you would like to allow your group time to shop, please plan to spend additional time here beyond the time allowed for scheduled programming. We can also plan a shopping visit as one of the stops provided in your visit plan. A limited number of people shopping at any one time will be allowed and only those who brought money for shopping should be in the gift shop area. The remainder of your group may wait outside the building or look at the exhibits. Members of your group should be encouraged to make their selections quickly so others may have their turn. A variety of gifts at various prices are offered.

Can We Eat Lunch There?

Yes. We have outdoor areas available for lunches and picnics. These areas, however, have limited space and are only available on a first come, first serve basis. A better option for many groups would be to utilize the pavilions and picnic areas at Craighead Forrest Park, that are connected to our grounds. You may reserve a pavilion by calling (870)932-6905.

What if it Rains?

We will not cancel your reservation if it is raining. It is up to you to contact the park if you prefer to cancel and reschedule due to rain. Many alternate activities can be planned inside. Groups with more than 60 people should contact the park to discuss programming options since smaller groups are easily accommodated within the nature center building itself. All groups should contact the park to discuss options prior to the day of your arrival if you would like alternate programming.

Accessibility for People with Disabilities

The nature center is designed to be as accessible as possible. An elevator provides access to all three levels inside. The ¼ mile long Habitats Trail is universally accessible from either the main level or lower level of the building. Doors and hallways meet ADA standards. Crowley’s Ridge, a 16-minute feature film with special effects, can be shown with or without captions. Exhibits in the main hall feature touch and audio exhibits as well as much to see.

Please let us know if your group has anyone with special physical or behavioral needs. This will enable our staff to plan the best experience for your group.

How Do We Get There?

Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center is located at 600 E. Lawson Road at the southern edge of Jonesboro, Arkansas.

What Will We Do There?

When you arrive please have your group wait outside or on the bus while you check in. We will meet you with the day’s itinerary. Please inform us how many children and adults are with you. Also at that time, staff will give you instructions on how to divide your group and the order of your programming. If your group arrives late, your programs may have to be shortened.

Discipline of Your Group

Teachers and adult chaperones are responsible for the discipline of your group. This allows staff to spend their energy providing quality programs and responding to questions from the group. We suggest that your group have one adult chaperone for every 10 to 15 children. Chaperones are expected to aid in supervision of the group. Therefore, please have chaperones dispersed throughout the group to prevent discipline problems. Please make chaperones aware of their discipline responsibilities. Staff may request that visitors who continually break rules or who are disrespectful to staff or other members of the group leave the program immediately. Staff may end a program or guided tour at their discretion if the problem has not been corrected.

Rules and Regulations

To help protect your group and your nature center, please make sure every member of your group follows the rules of the center:

  • All plants, animals, minerals, artifacts and other features on the center’s grounds are protected. Please leave them for the next person to enjoy.
  • Please dispose of trash properly. Trash containers are located near picnic tables and inside the building.
  • While on tour, all members of the group should remain with the group unless they are instructed by staff or a chaperone to leave the group for some reason.
  • The group will be asked to stay behind the staff member on the interpretive trails unless instructed otherwise.
  • Fishing is not permitted on the grounds unless part of a planned instructional activity.
  • Pets must be kept on a leash no longer than six feet and attended to at all times. Pets are not allowed in the building. Controlled, leashed pets may be taken on guided hikes, but understand that this may reduce the chance of seeing wild animals.
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