Battelle Darby Bison and Nature Center

It has been on our list forever, and we finally made it out to visit Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park and it's showstoppers: the bison. I was covering the story for Ohio.org (do you read it? You should if you want to know about and plan cool things to see allllll over Ohio).


Anyway, we were excited to go on a guided tour with a naturalist to see the bison. This Bison Walk is offered once a month and does not require registration.

The drive was interesting. I will say I had a general idea where the park was, and as soon as my map app started leading me astray, I should have shut her down. Others in my tour group agreed that their GPS did not take them to the right place as well, so the simple directions are: West Broad Street to Darby Creek Road (turn left). Drive until you see the Nature Center entrance. 



The nature center is modern and gorgeous, with a photographer's dream lighting inside. We listened to Tim Taylor, Battle Darby's Naturalist, give a 30 minute talk about bison. A few fun facts I didn't know:

  • The leader of the herd is always the oldest female (theirs has the awesome name "Big Mama").
  • They can weigh up to one ton!
  • They eat only grass, and they typically die of starvation when their teeth wear out from use. 
  • Bison are NOT buffalo. It has been a longstanding case of mistaken identify, started by the French, who likened them to water buffalo. 
You will get a chance to feel some fur samples, see pelts, skulls, and learn much more about their background. Before you head out on the hike, stop in the Family Restroom (that has paper towels instead of hand dryers--a child's dream!) and a changing table. 

The gravel path to the pasture did not seem to be a problem for families with wagons and strollers, and it was a very easy (but HOT) walk. That said, the bison move all over the place and have 50+ acres of pasture to scour. So, they may not always be in plain sight. That's the tricky thing--you are not guaranteed viewing. But the staff has cameras that can help them locate the herd and they know their habits, so you are better off consulting with them or joining a tour than trying to be a trail guide and find them yourself. 


Once you find them, yay!  Take a few photos, get brave and walk through the weeds and grass to the fence, and marvel at North America's largest land mammal. 




After your tour (or before, if you aren't perpetually arriving 20 seconds before anything starts), take some time in the air conditioned nature center. The clear tanks hold many surprises for those patient enough to find them.  There is a room with a few kid-friendly items (too many children who weren't mine to photograph it) and one room full of pelts, skulls, etc. 





That's an observation window in that little cave, looking up. You have to go in!

Can you see the frog's head to the far left? She wanted him "to feel the ocean waves". Hmm.

The volunteers in yellow shirts can answer any questions and are always friendly. And if you are Junior Explorers, you can fill out a card to earn a patch after completing a few park programs. 

If you want to picnic, you can load back in the car and drive one mile south, to the Cedar Shelters. There, you can find picnic areas and playgrounds. Enjoy!



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