Why does Blandford charge admission? Don't my tax dollars support you?
Blandford Nature Center is an independent non-profit which means that we do not receive any tax funding. All of our support comes from program fees, memberships, annual donations, corporate gifts, awarded grants and sponsorships.
Your admission dollars help support our operations so we can maintain trails, conduct building maintenance, host land stewardship projects, and more. This 2013 MLive article gives more details if you are interested in learning more.
Do I have to pay admission if I only want to walk on the trails?
We do encourage admission even if you’re only walking the trails. Your admission dollars help us with general operational needs. If you plan on visiting often, consider purchasing a Membership (members get free daily admission)! Our gate closes when the Visitor Center does so guests should plan accordingly when visiting.
Can I bring my Service Animal inside the Visitor Center and on the trails?
In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service animals are welcome at Blandford Nature Center. Please read our full Service Animal Policy for more information and rules/stipulations.
In the event that a service animal’s presence within certain areas of the nature center is demonstrated to cause the captive wildlife in that area undue stress or anxiety, or present the potential for injury, we reserve the right under the ADA to designate such areas as off-limits or to designate the area as sensitive and request that guests observe extra caution in such areas.
What is there to to do at Blandford?
- Enjoy a day with your family at one of our Signature Events (Sugarbush Festival, Earth Day Celebration, Bands at Blandford, etc.)
- Hike our well-maintained trails and explore our unique grounds through all four seasons
- Sign your child up for a Seasonal Camp during Winter, Spring, and/or Summer
- Explore our historical buildings in Heritage Village
- Book one of our spacious, unique rental spaces through Vault Catering for your next event
- Rent snowshoes in the Winter for a fun way to hike or cross-country ski on our trails
- Check out our Farm and say hello to our farm animals, visit the Children’s Garden, and see produce in the Greenhouse
- Enjoy outdoor play with your children by spending time in our Nature Nook playscape
- Marvel at the rotating, local art exhibits installed in the Visitor Center’s auditorium
- View our volunteer opportunities and sign-up to volunteer regularly or complete a day of service with a group
- Purchase unique gifts and items for the nature lovers in your life from our Gift Shop
- Have fun with friends and family at our community programs like Owl Prowl, Kombucha Workshops, and more
Do I need to let Blandford know if I'm bringing out a group for a self-guided exploration?
Groups of 10 or more are required to call ahead. Call 616-735-6240 to let us know you are coming and we ask for at least 24 hours notice. Regular admission rates apply.
Please be courteous of our guided groups and student campers. Areas being used in our programming may be off limits so please ask Visitor Services during check in for areas off limits. Trail packs may be checked out at the Visitor Services desk to aid in your self-exploration.
Is there a Rapid bus route to Blandford Nature Center?
Yes! The Rapid bus route 7 stops at the corner of Hillburn Ave NW and Leonard St NW which is a half mile down the street from our Visitor Center. For more information, call The Rapid at 616-776-1100 or visit www.ridetherapid.org.
When are the historical buildings open?
The historical buildings in Heritage Village are normally only open to the public on annual festival and special event days (Sugarbush Festival, Harvest Festival, etc.) and is based on volunteer interpreter availability.
We are currently working on a schedule so the buildings can be open regularly on weekdays/weekends. Regular admission fees apply to visit the buildings.
Trail & Property Etiquette
Can I walk my dog(s) at Blandford?
You certainly can! We require that your dog is on a leash at all times, stays on the trails, and that there is a doggy waste bag in hand to clean up after your pet.
Dogs are allowed everywhere on the property except on our Wildlife Trail and inside our buildings (with the exception of service animals).
Can I ride my bike on the trails?
Bikes are not allowed on our trails. Please park and lock your bikes at the provided bike racks then enjoy your walk on the trails. Blandford promotes recreational uses that are low-profile, low-impact and consistent with our land ethical values.
The City of Walker and Grand Rapids have other bike-friendly parks you can explore.
Can I play in the creek?
Please do not play in the creek. We take small groups in/near the creek with one of our educators only so visitors can learn about the ecological health of the creek and the impact humans have on it.
Can I use my snowshoes or cross-country skis on Blandford's trails?
You can use your own snowshoes or cross-country skis on our trails and at The Highlands. Please keep in mind that our trails are not specifically groomed for winter recreation and there must be a minimum of 5″ of snow in order to rent our snowshoes.
Snowshoe rentals are free with a Blandford membership. Without membership, snowshoes are $6 for adults and $3 for children plus the cost of admission ($3/person). Snowshoes must be turned back in by 4:45pm each day.
Do you allow individuals or scout troops to camp overnight on the property?
We do not allow anyone to camp out (during the day or overnight) on our property. Please refer to this list of Grand Rapids campgrounds to see places for camping within city limits.
Does Blandford accept injured wildlife?
We no longer accept injured wild animals for rehabilitation. Please refer to the list of rehabilitators for assistance with rescue and rehab of wild animals.
Where can I take injured wildlife in need of rehab?
I have a pest causing issues on my property. Can I trap it and drop it off at Blandford?
Please do not drop off any animals on the Blandford property as it disrupts our ecology and causes territory issues between our wildlife.
For help with pests on your personal property, please contact one of the wildlife control services on our Wildlife Resources page.
What should I do if I find an abandoned baby animal?
Many baby animals do not need our help. If the animal is injured, contact one of the wildlife rehabilitators and wait for their assistance on what to do.
How do I get my student into the Blandford School?
Grand Rapids Public Schools runs the Blandford Environmental Education Program that is housed on the Nature Center’s property. Click here for more information about Blandford School.