On Saturday, July 7, Jannette Santiago from the Idyllwild Nature Center, leads a program for young campers at the Hurkey Creek Campground, part of the Riverside County Parks. Photo by Sally Hedberg

The question posed to Scott Fisher, board president of the Idyllwild Nature Center, was “What would be your goal for the Nature Center?”


His answer was surprising, “To become better known. Even with hosting the Lemon Lily Festival, less than half of the locals have ever visited us.”

Accessible with miles of easy to moderate hiking trails and surrounded by views of the entire valley and mountains, this premier Nature Center has so much to offer the community. Part of the Riverside County Parks and Open Space District, it’s open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and has programs throughout the year.

The Visitor Center has many resources including books and films on the Cahuilla Indians, history and nature. There are plenty of picnic tables to enjoy a lunch in the sweet smelling Yellow Pine Forest.

A daily use fee is required: adults, $3; children between 3 and 11, $2; and dogs on leashes, $1. For an annual membership fee of $15 an individual can use the facilities all year. A whole family membership is $30. These memberships provide free admission to all the Riverside County Parks.

Each summer children, ages 7 to 11, are given the opportunity to learn and explore nature through the Junior Naturalist Program. The cost is $3 per child and is limited to 20 participants on a first-come basis. All programs are held on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon at the Nature Center.

On July 14, Nancy Savatera will lead “Project Bugs” that includes a bug scavenger hunt and making a bug observation box. There will be no Junior Naturalist Program on July 21, but the Lemon Lily Festival promises many kids’ activities.

On July 28, Park Interpreter Shelley Kibby will teach ways to identify animals, birds and other species by observing “Tracks and Traces.” The Junior Naturalist Programs continue through Aug. 25. All programs include crafts, hikes and snacks.

Volunteer Coordinator Karen Smith welcomes and needs new volunteers. Smith says, “The best way to start is by becoming a member and exploring the center. Get familiar with all the aspects, then volunteer a couple of hours a week and be part of the Nature Center family. Besides training, we have potlucks and field trips for volunteers.”

Some ways to help include working at the front desk, leading hikes, helping with the Junior Naturalist programs, gardening, watering and small animal care. Smith can be reached at (951) 659-4272 or via email at [email protected].

Since the center will be the venue for the upcoming Lemon Lily Festival, Jyoti Kintz, Nature Center employee, desperately needs volunteers to run the cash register during the festival. Jyoti will gladly train you.

The Idyllwild Nature Center is located at 25225 Highway 243 on the Pine Cove side of Idyllwild. For further information visit www.idyllwildnaturecenter.net or call (951) 659-3840.