COVID-19 Updates from Public Health
COVID-19 Limited Operations, Procedures and Closures

Ottawa County Parks & Recreation

Nature Center

  • COVID-19 Parks Updates & Closures
    • Kirk Park Dog Beach is open with limited hours due to high water. Dogs are allowed daily between 7-10 am and 7-10 pm. Outside of theses hours dogs are not permitted anywhere in Kirk Park. Sign up here to receive e-mail alerts related to the Kirk Park Dog Beach.
    • Ottawa Beach Marina is open to transient boaters. Reservations can be made online.
    • Picnic shelters are now available to reserve online.
    • Indoor reservation facilities remain closed and we are not accepting new reservations at this time. More information to follow.
    • The Nature Center at Hemlock Crossing County Park will re-open soon. More information to follow.
    • Outdoor programs have resumed. Click here to register for a program.
    • Summer Camps will resume in July. More information about programs and summer camps to follow. Sign up to receive email alerts for seasonal programs or summer camps.

    Learn More

From US 31, travel west on Croswell Street to West Olive Road. Turn south on West Olive Road and travel a 1/2 mile to the entrance on the west side.

The Nature Center, located within Hemlock Crossing Park, has exhibits, a wildlife den with critters and activities, a wildlife viewing area where you can watch birds and animals at the feeders, and a gift shop. The center also hosts a variety of educational programs for schools, special groups and the public.

Online Programs

Our Naturalist Guides have developed some online programming for you to enjoy from home! Click here to take a virtual walk with a naturalist or learn more about wildlife that is native to West Michigan.

Summer Camps

We have been closely following COVID-19 recommendations from the state and local government. As we are able to meet the guidelines set by the most recent executive order, we have decided to continue with our summer camp schedule beginning July 1. Our staff has been working hard to provide the safest camp experience possible. We have the following PPE’s, sanitization and social distancing protocols in place that will be followed for this camp season. Camps will look a bit different this year; this is what you can expect.

  1. All campers 7 years and older must bring a mask to camp and will be required to wear it if indoors. For children under 7 years of age, we recognize that masks can be a challenge. The state and health officials have given us the option of whether we require young children to wear masks. If you would like your child to wear one, please provide them with one and let us know.
  2. Camps will be held outdoors unless weather does not allow it. Ottawa County Parks may cancel camps if unfavorable weather are forecasted.
  3. Campers will be encouraged to follow current physical distancing guidelines whenever possible.
  4. Check in for each camp session will be held as far apart as possible to help prevent cross contamination. Guardians will be asked to stand 6’ apart while waiting to check in.
  5. A health screening checklist is REQUIRED to be filled out for each camper 24 hours before camp starts. A link will be emailed to you the week before your camp. We ask that you monitor your camper’s health daily for 7 days prior to camp and then be prepared to report on their health at registration.
  6. Campers will be required to wash hands or use hand sanitizer if no restrooms are present as soon as they arrive on site each morning.
  7. Our camp naturalists will be following strict sanitization protocols to help keep campers healthy.
  8. If your camper falls in a high-risk category of contracting Covid-19, please check with your health provider to assist with decisions on whether to attend camp or not.

Reserving the Nature Center

Please call the Nature Center at (616) 786-4847 schedule a visit, inquire about availability and make your reservation. This packet provides critical information you should know before you rent, plus helpful considerations while planning your event. To rent other facilities within the parks, please visit Rental Facilities.

School Programs

Looking for a memorable, educational outdoor experience for your pre-k through high-school students? Look no further than the Nature Center. Our school programs enhance your students’ learning with experiences which cannot be duplicated in a classroom. The educational field-trips are designed to meet your students at the appropriate cognitive level and can even be adapted to incorporate the subject matter you are currently studying. Year-round programs are available. If distance is an issue, there is bound to be a park near you where we can accommodate your class. Contact us today.

Class Program

Birthday Parties

Celebrate your special day at the Ottawa County Parks Nature Center!

The Nature Center offers guided, nature-based birthday party packages for up to 15 children, ages 5-12 years old at Hemlock Crossing County Park. Learn more here.


Hemlock Crossing offers snowshoe rentals for adults and children (4+) at the Nature Center.

Snow shoe rental (three hours): $8; $2 per additional hour
Snow shoe rental for those 6 and under is free with a paid adult rental

Guided treks are available throughout the winter; take a look at our program calendar for dates. Visitors are invited to warm up in front of a fire in the Great Room after their snowy outing! Contact the Nature Center at the phone number above to inquire about a group or school outing.

Man Snow Shoeing