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Jay C. Hormel Nature Center, Austin

#1 of 6 in Things to do in Austin
Must see · Wildlife Area · Nature / Park
The Jay C. Hormel Nature Center is a municipal nature preserve on the north-eastern corner of Austin, Minnesota, comprising more than 500 acres (200 ha) of restored and remnant prairie, hardwood forest, wetlands and meandering streams. Purchased with municipal, state, and private donations, the nature center is administered by the Austin municipal government through the Parks and Recreation Department. Named in honor of Jay Catherwood Hormel, the son of Hormel Foods Corporation founder George A. Hormel, his private estate forms the original land of the park.

Jay C. Hormel Nature Center features an Interpretive Center, the Ruby Rupner Auditorium, the "big gneiss rock", a Welcome Circle and over ten miles of hiking trails. Along the trails, visitors will find a number of wooden bridges, covered benches and an observation tower that affords a panoramic view of many acres of prairie and forest.
Depending on the time of year, a great variety of wildlife can be viewed at the nature center, including white-tailed deer, mink, salamanders, turtles and many species of birds and butterflies.
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Jay C. Hormel Nature Center reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
64 reviews
  • This nature center had good trails, and we arrived at the height of butterfly season! We also saw a weasel as we hiked toward the observation tower.  more »
  • Enjoyed the indoor area the most. A few large rescue birds were the highlight to us. No charge! Maple syrup is sold as fund-raising if desired, no pressure. Maps of trails and Austin were available...  more »
  • A great spot to take kids of all ages. Right off I90, and its totally free, donations are excepted. Interactive nature building that's fun and educational for kids. Hiking trails, streams to cross, and beautiful scenery. If you're passing through Austin and wanna get out of the car for a minute, this is a perfect spot. Some trails are paved so it works for little kids in strollers, trails are easy walking. Awesome place for pictures.
  • Fascinating and engaging place to explore the wonders of the natural world. Brand new facility. Clean and comfortable. A great place to take kids. The employees were friendly and helpful. Conveniently located about 5 min away from downtown Austin and the Spam museum.

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