Plan your visit

1750 East Beltline Ave. SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49546-5649
Phone: (616) 526-7600
Email: preserve@calvin.edu
Directions

Cars should park in the designated Ecosystem Preserve spaces immediately north of the cul-de-sac entrance to the preserve. See our map for details.

Walking trails are open to the public everyday from 7 a.m. until dusk.

Bunker Interpretive Center (BIC) hours

Summer (mid-May through August):
Monday–Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Academic year (September through mid-May):
Monday–Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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

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

The public is welcome to explore the preserve and Bunker Interpretive Center for free.

We are pleased to provide our quality educational programs to the community for free or at reasonable rates.

Please walk only on designated trails, and leave everything as you found it (collecting is not allowed). No pets, large groups, loud activities, running, biking, skiing, snow-shoeing, ice skating, fishing, or smoking.

What to see

Native Gardens

The Bunker Interpretive Center is surrounded by native gardens, including a rain garden and dry prairie garden that feature plants native to West Michigan. These plants are better adapted to our environment than horticultural species. They do not require irrigation or fertilization. Thus, they help conserve water and limit the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Additionally, native plants are beneficial to birds, butterflies, and a variety of insects, by providing a good source of food and shelter. During the fall and winter, a variety of birds can be seen feeding on seed heads throughout our gardens. In the spring and summer, butterflies, bees, and other insects can be seen sipping on the nectar of these flowers.

Join us the first Saturday in May for our annual Native Plant Sale, and learn how you can incorporate native plants into your own garden.

Walking trails

Come walk the woods, and enjoy God's amazing creation.

We invite you to explore the Ecosystem Preserve and its 44 acres of forest and wetlands accessible to the public. Over a mile of trails are available for wandering, taking in the beauty of each season, and discovering flora and fauna typical of West Michigan. 260 species of plants inhabit the preserve, including several trees approaching 250 years old, and the smallest plant in the world, called watermeal. Numerous species of animals have been identified or reside in the preserve, including 18 species of amphibians and reptiles, 179 bird species (about 60 nest here), and 27 species of mammals.

To learn more about the natural history of the Preserve, check out our trail guide, and download our vertebrate checklist and vascular plant checklist of all the animals and plants that have been seen in the preserve.

Bunker Interpretive Center

Our award-winning Helen and Vincent Bunker Interpretive Center is LEED certified, and has a number of environmentally friendly features. We encourage you to stop in and check out our seasonal educational displays, view some Michigan frogs and turtles up close, read a storybook or two, star in your own puppet show, and visit with our friendly and knowledgeable staff.

Throughout the year, we offer a variety of educational programs and events for all ages. Please visit the programs & events page to see what we are currently offering.

A note to organizations/child care centers that would like to bring a group of more than 12 people to the Preserve

We do our best to accommodate a variety of groups and programs at the Preserve, but are limited by these guidelines:

  • Our primary mission is to preserve habitats, plants and animals indigenous to West Michigan. Therefore, a policy is in place to limit the number of Preserve visitors per day, trails are for walking (the preserve is not a sporting area), and picnicking is not permitted.
  • The Preserve is used for many different purposes at various times of the week (particularly for camps during the summer), therefore, we schedule its usage to avoid overlapping large group visits.

For groups larger than 12, we request you schedule an educational program with us; please contact Julie Wilbourn. There is limited availability for these programs in the summer, so we suggest you contact us as early as March to reserve a time during June–August.