Celebrate 20 Years of the Salty Dog Triathlon!
- Main Phone: (620) 663-7411
- 3002 E. 30th Avenue
Hutchinson, KS 67502
Trails & Grounds Hours:
Open Weekdays - 8 a.m. to dusk
Weekends & Holidays - 9 a.m. to dusk
Visitor's Center Hours:
April through September: Open Weekdays 8:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.;
October through March: Open Weekdays 8:00 a.m.-5 p.m.;
Saturdays: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sundays: 1-5 p.m.
John Gallagher, Superintendent: firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephanie Carlson, Education Coordinator: email@example.com
Steve Kinser, Natural Resource Officer: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lacey Browning, Customer Service Manager: email@example.com
Enjoy the great outdoors by taking in all that Dillon Nature Center has to offer, both indoors and outdoors throughout the 100 acres of this urban sanctuary located in northeast Hutchinson.
Visitors enjoy a vast array of outdoor recreation experiences, from the three miles of National Recreation trails, fishing on the stocked upper pond, canoeing, bird watching, and exploring plant and wildlife on the grounds.
Children let their imaginations run wild at the Jim Smith Family Playscape, an outdoor playground experience that allows youth to use all five senses in exploration and open nature play.
Visitors can take their nature education indoors with A Closer Look at Nature exhibit and shop for nature-related gifts and items inside the Wild Things gift shop. Both are located inside the Visitor’s Center, which is open to the public and free of charge.
Trails & Grounds
Woodard Interpretive Trail Loop
(.75 mile) (blue arrows)
Surface varies from crushed rock to grass to dirt. Includes some steps and slopes. An interpretive booklet is available for this trail. Features found along trail: ponds, marsh, small stream, small prairie, thickets, woods, and gardens.
Outer Loop Recreation Trail Loop
(.86 mile) (red arrows)
Surface is mostly dirt and grass. Not always outside of the Woodard Trail but mostly follows the perimeter of the nature center. Good jogging trail. Features found along trail: ponds, small prairie, thickets, woods, and gardens.
Upper Pond Hard-surface Trail
(.29 mile) (just follow the concrete walkways)
Surface is all concrete and at least five feet in width. Circles pond, goes through beautiful garden areas, and connects to visitor center. Even though it may be officially rated as accessible, some slopes may be challenging for some users.
(Note: There are several cutoffs and small loops that connect the Woodard, Outer Loop, and Upper Pond trails. These other short trail pieces can serve to shorten your walking route or add length to it, as you want.)
Prairie Hills/Westar Energy Trails
(.66 mile one way between the west trailhead and east trailhead near Prairie Hills Middle School) (Not really marked just follow the mowed paths)
The surface is mostly sand and grass. This trail system is still under development and there is an alternate loop that can add some distance to it. Interpretive signage can be found along the trail. Features found along trail: marsh, prairie dog town, thickets, and expanses of native grasses and wildflowers.
Pond & Habitat
Dillon Nature Center is home to a 1-acre pond. Patrons enjoy fishing and canoeing in the pond, as well as, observing nature. The pond is stocked with Trout twice-monthly From November – March by Crystal Lake Fisheries out of Missouri. It is then stocked once a month by KDWPT with catfish from March – October.
Birds & Wildlife:
Take your binoculars to the nature center and look for creatures. There are 200 species of birds and a wide variety of wildlife.
Plants & Habitat:
Explore various plants and habitat at DNC. DNC is home to over 300 species of woody plants and hundreds of varieties of wildflowers and native grasses.
Indoor Exhibit & Gift Shop
Take a Closer Look at Nature with our renovated interactive exhibits and displays inside the Visitor’s Center at DNC. While you’re inside, explore our gift shop.
Take a Closer Look at Nature Indoor Exhibit
Enjoy a day of fun at our indoor exhibit.
From educational resources to unique snacks, the DNC gift shop has a variety of interesting retail for our guests.
Let your imagination soar at the Jim Smith Family Playscape. Young families and their children are invited to create, explore, and get a little dirty while having fun in this one-of-a-kind outdoor exploration center, completed in Spring 2012 thanks to a grant from the United Health Ministries Fund and several donors and volunteers.
Visitor’s Center: The Visitor’s Center includes a meeting room that can be rented out for private parties and groups, as well as, a science lab that can be rented for birthday parties and smaller events.
- Community Room: Includes: 1,400 square feet of usable space (35-feet by 42-feet); 74 padded stacking chairs; 13 folding Formica-topped 8′ tables; 8 round folding 5′ tables; and a kitchenette with refrigerator and oven for your use. Ideal for gatherings of 90 participants or less.
- Science Lab: This 19′ by 25′ room has 475 square feet of space and tile floors. This rental includes 20 chairs and 5, 8-foot tables. This room also includes counter space and a sink. Ideal For children’s birthday parties of 20 participants or less; additional break-out space for businesses meeting in the Community Room.
Taylors' Shady Lane Cabin & Mary Clark Community Courtyard
Taylors’ Shady Lane Cabin: Features a main room for meetings, family reunions, birthday parties, receptions, etc., a catering kitchen with a serving window into the meeting room, men’s and women’s bathrooms, storage for tables and chairs. Outside the building, there is a covered patio and grassy courtyard. Ideal for gatherings of 50 participants or less.
Mary Clark Community Courtyard: The courtyard is 8,000-square feet of rolling green lawn, set in front of the Taylors’ Shady Lane Cabin. Ideal for outdoor weddings or gatherings.
Outdoor Wedding Areas
Outdoor Wedding Areas:
- Wedding Nook: The Wedding Nook is a shady, natural lawn area with a stream running alongside and a grand old silver maple tree. It is a very popular place for weddings. The area is 51-feet by 38-feet. There is no electricity in this area and the maximum capacity is 80 people.
- Rabbit Glen: Rabbit Glen has a shady 45-foot by 60-foot natural lawn with a 17-foot by 17-foot shelter building. The maximum capacity is 80 people.
We offer both family & individual memberships to the Dillon Nature Center. Members provide annual financial support to the Nature Center through donations of various sizes. These donors then receive discounts on programs, rentals, and gift shop purchases.
**Please note, you don’t have to be a member to visit the Nature Center.
We have volunteer opportunities for all ages and abilities. For a full list, follow the link below.
Is there an admission fee to the Nature Center?
No, but donations are always appreciated. There is a charge for most programs and events.
How big is the Nature Center?
Thirty-three (33) wooded acres are managed by Hutch Rec for public use. Approximately seventy (70) additional acres of prairie, adjacent to nature center grounds, are accessible to the public for walking/hiking thanks to a partnership with Evergy and Southern Pacific Railroad.
How many miles of trails are at Nature Center?
There are about three miles of trails total at the nature center. Of that total amount, about ¼ mile is paved with concrete for wheelchair use. Most of the trails are fairly level and easy to walk.
Can you rent the Nature Center for events?
Yes. We have multiple indoor and outdoor spaces available for group event rental. Please refer to rental information provided on this webpage for details.
Can we have a picnic at the Nature Center?
Yes. Families or groups of fifteen (15) or less are welcome on a first come first serve basis to enjoy our picnic areas. Families and groups larger than fifteen (15) are asked to call ahead for picnic area availability.
Fires of all kinds, including all grills, are not allowed.
Can we have a cookout at the Nature Center?
No. Fires of all kinds, including all grills, are not allowed.
Can I ride my bike on the trails?
No. All trails are strictly for foot traffic or wheelchairs. Skate boards, other skates, bikes, vehicles of any kind, and horses are not allowed on the trails.
Can I walk my dog at the Nature Center?
Yes, if it is kept on leash and under control at all times. Please clean up any messes left on the trails by your pet.
Can I take pictures at the Nature Center?
Yes, but please abide by the photography policy, link to policy below.
We invest substantial funding and effort each year to ensure that this beautiful natural space is well maintained. Purchasing a photography membership and/or a day pass directly supports this effort.
Do you offer educational nature programs?
Yes. Please contact Stephanie Carlson, Education Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org for a complete list of available programs.
Can I collect mushrooms or butterflies at the Nature Center?
No. All natural items and animals such as flowers, leaves, fruit, mushrooms, nuts, snakes, butterflies, frogs, lizards, etc. are protected at the nature center and must not be collected.
Can I fish and do I need a state fishing license?
Yes and Yes. All patrons can fish our 1-acre pond, those ages 16 to 65 years of age must have a valid Kansas Fishing License and comply with the Fishing Rules & Policies.
Additionally, all patrons, regardless of age, must have a valid trout permit to fish for trout.
We do not sell state fishing licenses or trout permits.
Our pond is stocked with trout from November through March by Crystal Lake Fisheries out of Missouri; and is stocked by KDWPT with catfish from March through October.
Can I volunteer at the Nature Center?
Yes. Volunteers are vital to the Nature Center’s operations. Volunteers help with school programs, field trips, nature programs; gardening, outdoor maintenance, carpentry projects; clerical work, and many other opportunities. Please call us if you would like to volunteer or click on the link below.
How do I become a Nature Center Member?
Paid memberships provide annual financial support to our operations.
Individual and Family Memberships can be purchased at the Nature Center office or click the link below.
Members receive discounts on designated programs and gift shop purchases.
Where did the “Dillon” name come from?
We are proud of the Dillon name, belonging to the founders of Dillon’s Grocery Stores and generations of Hutchinson residents. The original twenty-eight (28) acres of this site belonged to Dillon Stores, Inc. and was available to their employees for recreation activities, such as swimming and picnics. It was commonly called Dillon’s Lake in those days. In 1970 the land was given to the City of Hutchinson, with the Hutchinson Recreation Commission responsible for providing public recreation and outdoor education opportunities.