Calvin Ecosystem Preserve & Native Gardens

Basic information

  • Phone: (616) 526-7601


42.933178 -85.580505
View on campus map Get directions

The Calvin Ecosystem Preserve & Native Gardens was established in 1985 to restore and maintain this example of a West Michigan ecosystem. It occupies the northern half of Calvin University's east campus.

Campus tour: Ecosystem Preserve and Native Gardens

The 100-acre preserve includes these features:

  • 40 trailed acres open to the public to explore (includes mature deciduous forest, 13 ponds and vernal pools, and meadows),
  • Buiten Wildlife Sanctuary (60 acres of wildlife refuge with restricted access, used for scientific research),
  • Bunker Interpretive Center (used for Calvin University classes and community educational programs).

Over the past 28 years, the preserve has been a valuable resource for:

  • An average of 6,000 visitors who enjoy our trails annually,
  • Nearly 20 Calvin University departments/programs which study here annually,
  • More than 500 Calvin students gaining valuable work and research experience as preserve employees,
  • Over 23,000 elementary school students learning about plants and animals during our school programs,
  • More than 600 children immersing themselves in nature at our Wetlands & Woodlands summer camps since 2000.

Despite all of this activity within its boundaries, the preserve remains a quiet, peaceful place for reflection and a habitat mostly untainted by human interaction. The Calvin Ecosystem Preserve & Native Gardens successfully brings together developed and undeveloped land, and demonstrates Calvin’s belief that it is important to care for God’s creation.

Did You Know?

The Calvin Ecosystem Preserve & Native Gardens provides habitat for 156 species of native plants, giving it a floristic quality index score of 45. This means its biodiversity makes the preserve a site of state-wide significance and irreplaceable with current restoration techniques.

The Calvin Ecosystem Preserve & Native Gardens encompasses the watershed supplying the headwaters of a local stream, Whiskey Creek, which flows through Calvin's east campus. Whiskey Creek is the source of water for the Seminary Pond and a tributary of Plaster Creek.

Interested in learning more? Read more about the Calvin Ecosystem Preserve & Native Gardens.

Walking trails and restrooms are open to the public for free everyday 7 a.m. – dusk.

Bunker Interpretive Center (BIC) Hours:

Summer (Mid-May through August)

  • Monday - Friday 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Academic Year (September to Mid-May)

  • Monday - Friday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. 

Closed weekends and holidays (Labor Day, Thanksgiving Weekend, Christmas Break, New Year's Eve & Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, and Independence Day)

Admission to the trails and BIC is free.

Restrooms in the BIC vestibule are available everyday 7 a.m. - dusk.


Parking is available in front of the Bunker Interpretive Center. (parking map)


The Bunker Interpretive Center is Handicap Accessible.


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