HOLDERNESS – Squam Lakes Natural Science Center is pleased to announce opening day for the public is on Sat., May 1. Regular hours are 9:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (last trail admission is in the 2:30-3:30 p.m. entry block). Since 1966, Squam Lakes Natural Science Center has educated and enlightened visitors about the natural world through spectacular live animal exhibits, natural science education programs, lake cruises, informal public gardens, and a nature-based Montessori preschool. It is the only institution in northern New England accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
All visitors are encouraged to “Know Before You Go” to plan accordingly for their visit. As in the 2020 trail season, all visitors must pre-purchase timed entry trail admission tickets. Timed entry admission will allow visitors to arrive during a one-hour window. This allows the Science Center to manage capacity limits required by current state guidelines.
The live animal exhibit trail will be one-way with some exhibits remaining closed for health precautions. Visitors will be asked to wear facemasks and maintain physical distancing from other groups. The outdoor Gordon Interactive Playscape will be open but the indoor Gordon Children’s Center will be closed for the start of the season.
Science Center staff have been working to put the finishing touches on the new Richard & Jean Lovett Raptor Exhibit. This new complex includes six new and renovated buildings for raptors and related exhibits. Visitors will see nine raptor species in new aviaries, including Bald Eagle, Goshawk, Great Horned Owl, Turkey Vulture, Red-tailed Hawk, and others. Giant sound dishes made to replicate the sound gathering capabilities of an owl’s facial feathering will allow visitors to hear for themselves how well owls can hear. At another exhibit, children can imagine themselves as baby birds hatching out of giant eggs. A new Songbird Feeding Station allows a spot for visitors to quietly reflect and observe wild birds that visit the Science Center, near the Marsh Boardwalk.
The Hidden Stories Exhibit, which opened in 2020, shows visitors about the wild animals who use the greater Science Center property. The project uses trail cameras to monitor several natural communities using maps, still images, video clips, and graphs. This year interactive video touch screens were added allowing visitors to explore the four animal species highlighted; red fox, white-tailed deer, coyote, and black bear.
Squam Lake Cruises will begin in mid-May and run through mid-October. Cruises take visitors to witness firsthand the beauty of Squam Lake and learn about wildlife, including Common Loons, Bald Eagles, and other animals who make the lake home. Cruise tickets will be available online at nhnature.org.
Kirkwood Gardens is another beautiful stop for visitors to get Nearer to Nature. These free informal public gardens located on Route 3 are the perfect spot for a quiet picnic or to observe songbirds and insects, or flowers in bloom. The traditional Kirkwood Gardens Day will not be held this year, but there will be perennials for sale beginning in late May.
The live animal exhibit trail and hiking trails will be open daily from May 1 through November 1, 9:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (last trail admission in the 2:30-3:30 time slot). Trail admission will be $18 for adults and seniors (age 16+), $13 for youth ages 3-15, free to children 2 and under, and for Science Center members. Please visit nhnature.org for full details about what to expect on your visit and to purchase tickets.