There are many things to do at Prairie Ridge! The following are a few suggestions to get you started. For the best possible experience, we recommend that you also review our hours, rules, and regulations before your visit.
Walk the Trails
We offer two main trails, the Prairie Trail and the Forest Trail. The Prairie Trail veers off to the right just inside the entrance fence and meanders through the prairie. It is the shorter trail of the two. The Forest Trail heads left just beyond the trailer and winds through the forest, through the Nature PlaySpace, along the creek, through the native tree arboretum, and meets up with the Prairie Trail to bring you back to the parking lot. The total length is about a mile. You can view the trail map at the entrance kiosk, or download a copy of the printable map. (PDF)
Prairie Ridge is also home to a Kids in Parks Track Trail! Visit the kiosk near the picnic area below the Outdoor Classroom for brochures to guide your adventures during your visit. Brochures can be viewed/downloaded online at the Kids in Parks website.
Prairie Ridge is a haven for wildlife in the Triangle Area and there are hundreds of species visible on the grounds. Many visitors birdwatch at our bird feeders just down the hill from the Outdoor Classroom building or from the bird blind near the pond. You may also see reptiles, amphibians, mammals, fish, a huge variety of invertebrates, and many native plant species on the grounds. Check out our current species list (PDF) for the most up-to-date of species that have been documented on the grounds. You can also learn about the plants, animals, and fungi active right now in our What Time is it in Nature feature on the Museum's blog for hints about things to look for on your next visit.
Learn About Native Plant Gardening
North Carolina is home to many gorgeous native plant species, many of which can add low-maintenance beauty to your garden or yard. Visit our Nature Neighborhood Garden page for ideas on how to incorporate native plants into your garden and build a space that attracts wildlife.
While Prairie Ridge is open to the public during regular business hours, we are also a field research station and have many research projects active on the grounds at any given time. Many of the projects we're involved in are citizen science projects that invite the public to participate! You can get involved as a citizen scientist by attending a citizen science program or by volunteering as a citizen science volunteer (see below for more information about volunteering at Prairie Ridge). Upcoming citizen science programs are listed on the Prairie Ridge Public Programs page or you can learn more about the Musuem's citizen science program on the Citizen Science page.
Learn About Green Living
While we want everyone to get outside and learn more about nature, Prairie Ridge also serves to demonstrate residential-scale green features that you can incorporate into your own space. Our Outdoor Classroom is a green building designed by local green architecht Frank Harmon and features sustainable building options, rain-water harvesting, and dual-flush toilets. The building is powered by green energy from our nearby solar panels and vertical spire wind turbine. You can learn more about our green features on signage near the Outdoor Classroom and on our Green Architecture page.
Attend a Program or Event
We offer a wide range of 1-4 hour nature education programs, citizen science adventures, and training workshops as well as several larger public events each year. Learn about nature from our experienced naturalists by signing up for a program, or bring your whole family for events like Take a Child Outside, Gnomes and Fairies Spring Up on the Prairie, the Statewide Star Party, or our National Moth Week celebration. Visit our Public Programs page for a complete list of upcoming public programs at Prairie Ridge.
Bring Your Class for a Field Trip
Prairie Ridge is a great place to bring your classes for an outdoor field trip! Get your students learning outside with one of our curriculum-correlated nature programs for K-12 students. For more information about the programs we offer and how to reserve a date for your visit, see our Group Programs page. Please note that most group programs have a fee.
Prairie Ridge offers a variety of volunteer opportunities, including maintaining the Nature Neighborhood Garden and other groundskeeping activities, assisting with educational programs, leading Saturday citizen science programs, and collecting and/or entering data for citizen science projects. All interested volunteers must first attend a volunteer orientation at the Museum downtown. Visit the Museum's volunteer page for more information about volunteering at the Museum and to fill out the volunteer application.
We hope you enjoy your visit to Prairie Ridge and come back to see us often!