Getting out: Trinity River Audubon Center (Part 3 of 3)
While The Jonas Brothers and former First Lady Laura Bush have already experienced the greatness of the TrinityRiver Audubon Center (TRAC), many Dallas residents still don’t even know that it exists. A couple of weeks ago my son and I met some friends on the outskirts of Pleasant Grove to make our initial tour of the facility.
First I have to send a shout out to District 5 City Council Candidate Tiffinni Young who saw on my Facebook page that I was heading out to the TRAC and offered to hook us up with a pass. Facebook to the rescue once again.
I guess the most amazing thing about this wonderful nature center -besides the fact that it’s a $30 million trash heap reclamation project- is that it’s actually inside the city limits of Dallas. I mean, duh, but when you think about the fact that the grounds of this facility probably look a lot like it did when the area was settled years ago, it’s really something.
I was looking for the center to check on construction while it was being built, but I never could figure out where it was actually located. Since it sits about a half mile off Loop 12 you’d never know it was back there if the sign wasn’t alerting you to its presence.
Driving up to the TRAC is quite a stunning site, especially when you factor in its location and the whole trash heap thing. An architecture review by David Dillon in the Dallas Morning News describes the building as follows:
From above, the Trinity River Audubon Center looks like a bird in flight, its broad wings sweeping out over forests and floodplains; at ground level it seems more like a giant insect picking its way across the landscape.
A gravel path meanders from the parking lot to the front door, crisscrossing wetlands and landfills that the city spent $30 million to clean up. Directly ahead, wrapping a majestic cedar elm is the reception area, and beyond it an assembly hall with a ceiling of recycled blue jeans depicting fish or fossils or feathers or leaves – you get the idea.
To the right is the classroom wing, wrapped in renewable cypress siding and sloping upward like a small ski jump; opposite it sits the exhibit hall, with its porthole windows and weathering steel skin that give it the look of a ship’s hull. A third piece, the tail of the bird, contains offices and staff space.
The actual building (which is very good but not quite great), is secondary to grounds. There are trees, brush, ponds, and lookouts throughout a four mile stretch of trails. In the two plus hours that we spent at the center we may have made it through half of the trails.
Even though it was almost dusk when we left, there were still plenty of interesting birds to see. The staff told us we would have more luck in the early morning hours. They were very knowledgeable and lead a couple of guided nature walks on Saturdays. And there’s a nice video in the theater about the Trinity River – the longest river that stretches only through Texas (you know how we do).
So get out and take the fam to the Trinity River Audubon Center. I hope you have as much fun as we did.
Hours of Operation
Tuesday thru Saturday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Third Thursday of each month, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. (FREE)
TRAC members: Free
Adults (Ages 13-59): $6.00
Children (Ages 3-12): $3.00
Seniors (Ages 60+): $4.00
Children age 2 and under: Free