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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Betsy Waters: Bluegrass offers fun family excursions at Salato Wildlife and Raven Run

(Photo from Betsy Waters)

 
Exploring the Bluegrass with your kids can be a wonderful way to learn something new! Salato Wildlife Education Center and Raven Run will allow you and your children to become immersed in the natural habitats of Kentucky and even learn something new along the way!
 
Salato Wildlife Education Center is part of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife and is located in Frankfort. Just a short drive off I-64 you can find their wonderful education center and acres and acres of habitats and live animals!
 
Start your visit at Salato with a walk through the education center. There are numerous interactive exhibits, animal species to see, animal pelts (skins/fur) to touch, a bird watching area and more. Learn about native species and ecosystems as well as ways the Department of Fish and Wildlife is working within our state.
 
Just step outside the education center you find what my kids love about Salato! Salato features various ecosystems native to Kentucky and offers real wildlife as part of each habitat exhibit. Visit the pond and living stream and see native fish, waterfowl and insects. A walk through the trails in the park leads you to see live bison, elk, deer, turkey, a bear and a wildcat! Get up close to the animals and be sure to check out the information offered at each exhibit.
 
My children love to spend a few hours walking the trails (many are paved and easily navigated by strollers or wheelchairs), picnicking and exploring the indoor center.
 

(Photo from Betsy Waters)

There are two stocked ponds on the property for fishing and since it’s the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife you can pick up your fishing license right on site!
 
Salato is open Tuesday – Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m and Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and is closed on Sunday and Monday. They close for the winter each year from late November – early March.
 
The admission fee for adults is $4, youth (5 to 18) – $2, children under 5 free. They also offer annual memberships for an individual – $20, family – $30 (includes all members of the immediate family) and a friend Membership – $50 (family and 5 guests).
 
Scheduled school groups and chaperones – $2 per person (age 5 and older).
 
To purchase a membership, stop by the Salato Center during regular operating hours or call 502-564-7863 to purchase using a credit card and they will mail your card to you. To learn more about Salato or get driving directions click here.
 

Raven Run is a 734-acre nature sanctuary located just at the southern end of Fayette County. A short drive down Old Richmond Road or out Tates Creek Road will lead you to Raven Run located just off Jack’s Creek Pike. The sanctuary is run by the Fayette County Parks Department and is FREE to visitors.
 
Raven Run has numerous trails running through the park. When I took my boys (two and four years old at the time) we headed toward the creek and I easily navigated the trails. There are other trails that lead to wonderful Kentucky River overlooks and various habitats. You can easily spend the entire day within the park so pack plenty of water and snacks or a picnic lunch.
 
While we were enjoying the creek we quickly realized we were a part of someone else’s home when a doe and fawn strolled by just on the other side of the creek! They walked down the stream, then crossed about 50 feet from us. The kids were so excited to see deer right there in front of them and it
was a great teachable moment. Be prepared to see other creatures along the way and be respectful by taking care of their home and not leaving anything behind on your adventure.
 
Raven Run has a nature center at the trail head and offers special programming throughout the year. Their full calendar is available online and some events are great for children as well as adults. This Saturday, May 4 get out and enjoy a Birds of the Bluegrass program at 8 a.m. or plan to attend on May 11 at 9 p.m. for their monthly Stargazing Night. My husband and I enjoyed a date night at the Stargazing event once and I was amazed at the telescopes local astronomers bring out for visitors to use. We saw the Space Station fly overhead, planets, constellations and other things in the night sky.
 
Raven Run is open daily 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (trails close at 4:30 p.m.). They are closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and the day after Christmas.
 
To learn more and view the calendar for the year click here.
 

Betsy Waters was born and raised in Lexington. She spent more than six years teaching elementary school before becoming a stay-at-home mom to her two boys, now 5 and 6. She enjoys working as a preschool director, MOPS coordinator, Sunday school teacher, and volunteering with PTA. Her passion to get out and enjoy the city with her children led to the creation of her website LexFun4Kids.

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