Educating Dallas Kids in Nature

Photo from top of West Rim Trail at Dog Wood Canyono of Joe Pool Lake

Beautiful view from the top of West Rim Trail of Joe Pool Lake

Educating Dallas kids in nature has never been easier!  Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center is an amazing place to easily give yourself a break and let kids of all ages be free to explore and have adventures.  Dogwood Canyon is unique in that it is the only true canyon in the Dallas area and is a mere 15 minutes south of downtown Dallas off 67 in Cedar Hill.

Toddlers thru Pre-schoolers safety while exploring

For younger children, Dogwood Canyon offers a specially designed natural play and picnic area.  It is enclosed so you can relax and watch your child do what is so inherent to their being – play in nature.  Called “Nature Play” the space has stump jumping, a climbing wall, a crawling tube and a sandbox.  The Dog Wood Canyon educators feature story time in Nature Play.  Currently a story is told featuring a turtle’s adventure while the staff shows a live turtle.  By March 2016 Dogwood Canyon will expand Nature Play to include a sensory garden and a small trail, where small children can feel like they are hiking.

Nature Play Area Sign

Nature Play area with rock climbing wall, multi-tiered sandbox and climbing tube

Nature Play area with climbing wall, crawling tube and multi tiered sand box


If your child is ready to move on from Nature Play, the Butterfly Garden might be next.  Specific native plants are grown that attract a wide variety of butterflies. Depending on the time of year, countless hours can be spent with the butterflies. For those kids ready to keep moving, the Canyon Floor Trail is steps away and provides another adventure.  It is a short easy walk amidst towering trees.

Handmade bracelet from stems and twigs

Handmade bracelet from stems and twigs

Young school age imagination

For younger school age children there are many opportunities to use their imagination and learn. Melissa Paschkee, Senior Education Manager at Dogwood Canyon, recalls a young girl making a bracelet gift from a stem and vine collecting pile.  After a leisurely time spent hunting for fossils and looking for cool shaped rocks, this age kid can also pick up and race thru the nearby dry creek bed with any sort of imagined adventure.

Older kids sense of accomplishment

The West Rim Trail which goes to the top of the canyon is one that brings both a sense of accomplishment and spectacular views.  Ms. Paschkee observes that at first kids complain that the climb to the top of the canyon is too tough, but at the first overview they exclaim “Whoa!  This is amazing”.  When they arrive at the top they obtain their natural reward – an overlook across Joe Pool Lake all the way to Cowboy Stadium.  The canyon is perched atop the Edwards Plateau and is slice of the hill country.

Ms. Paschkee said, “Every day I see a child whose world has just changed and expanded.  In particular, I remember one boy who said “My dream came true today, I saw a red bird”.

Kids hiking along Canyon Floor trail. Educating Kids in nature is fun

Canyon floor trail

Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center is an easy, safe and spectacularly beautiful destination to educate Dallas kids in nature at all age levels.

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