Turtle Bay Exploration Park is a 300-acre environmentally themed nature park with a wildlife center, an arboretum and botanical gardens, a museum and the architectural wonder of the Sundial Bridge. Located at the gateway to the Sacramento River Trails in Redding, California, Turtle Bay Exploration Park was established to inspire, educate and encourage an interest in the local environment and its fauna and flora and to promote conservation and preservation of the region.
Mission and Vision
The mission of the Turtle Bay Exploration Park is to inspire wonder, curiosity, exploration, and appreciation of the environment and the world around us. The Park’s vision is to be an inviting and vibrant gathering place for the community to engage with and learn about the natural environment and encourage further education and lifelong learning, cultural engagement, and economic growth.
McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens
Also known as the Redding Arboretum, the McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens spans 300 acres, 200 of which is undeveloped land for future use, and 20 acres of botanical garden, which is linked to the award-winning Sacramento River Trail. The Arboretum features a variety of gardens, ranging from the Mediterranean Climate Gardens, which include gardens from Australia, Chile, South Africa, and the Mediterranean, to a butterfly garden, a children’s garden, several specialty gardens, and two beautiful water features.
Turtle Bay Museum
Resting at the heart of the Turtle Bay experience is the Turtle Bay Museum, which is a wood and steel structure with floor-to-ceiling glass walls to enable the building to ‘float’ on the site and columns that reflect the riparian habitat outside. The Museum is home to two spacious special exhibition galleries that house a range of permanent and changing exhibits relating to the region’s art, science, and natural and cultural history, each of which is set in ‘boxes’ that protrude from the Museum’s walls. Exhibits feature a mix of interactive displays, multimedia exhibits, a huge water tank for viewing marine life, and a recreation of a Native American Wintu bark house.
Paul Bunyan's Forest Camp
Modeled after an ancient forest camp, Paul Bunyan’s Forest Camp is an educational and exploration center that focuses on local fauna and flora. The Forest Camp features outdoor exhibits that explore California’s logging and timber industries, an amphitheater that hosts annual animal shows, outdoor play equipment, and a water feature, and an aviary and a seasonal butterfly house. The Camp is also home to the Mill Building, which houses a variety of exhibits that showcase the local fauna and flora of the North State, including live animals.
The Sundial Bridge
Spanning the Sacramento River in the heart of Redding is the Sundial Bridge, an award-winning architectural wonder of engineering and beauty. Designed by Santiago Calatrava and opened in 2004, the Sundial Bridge is a cantilevered spar cable-stayed bridge for pedestrians and bicycles, linking the north and south campuses of Turtle Bay Exploration Park and serving as an entrance to the Sacramento River Trail system. The aptly named Sundial Bridge is a working sundial – one of the largest in the world – and records time by the sun for four hours of the day between 11:00 am and 3:00 pm.
Both a functional work of art and technical marvel that celebrates human creativity and ingenuity, the Bridge is environmentally sensitive to its serene and tranquil river setting, supporting the nearby salmon-spawning habitat due to not having water supports. There are public plazas at both ends of the bridge that have benches to relax on and soak up the beautiful views.
Turtle Bay Exploration Park offers a broad range of educational programs for all ages from school and scout programs to summer camps and more. Little Explorers is an early childhood program designed for young children to construct their own knowledge through active learning in a play-based environment. Discovery Camps are held every summer for a variety of age groups and focus on interactive and hands-on activities, creation, innovation, imagination, and teamwork.
Turtle Bay Exploration Park is open to the public from 9: 00 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Friday and 10:00 am to 5:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. The Museum Store & Coffee Bar is located opposite the famous Sundial Bridge and offers a wide assortment of items, ranging from local arts and crafts, jewelry, and memorabilia to books, gifts, and fun, educational toys for children. The Coffee Bar serves healthy food and drinks to stay or go, including sandwiches, salads, pastries, desserts, and smoothies.
844 Sundial Bridge Drive, Redding, CA 96003, website, Phone: 530-243-8850
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