The ODC Nature Preserve is open 365 days a year during daylight hours. Our main parking lot is located at 4214 56th Street. Additional parking can be found at Fillmore Discovery Park on the preserve’s southwest corner along 142nd Avenue.

  • No fee to hike the trails or visit the outdoor exhibit areas
  • Trailheads are located at the main parking area and Fillmore Discovery Park
  • Trails are crushed stone or boardwalk and many are ADA accessible
  • Pets are only allowed on 6 foot leashes and are to be kept at least 50 feet from the captive animal enclosures
  • No over-night or after hours parking

Learn more about ODC Nature Preserve site rentals and large group programming

Learn more About Us.

  • DO use the ODC Nature Preserve during daylight hours
  • DO use the trails for walking, jogging, hiking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing
  • DO use the trails for wheelchairs, strollers and wagons
  • DO keep pets on a 6 foot leash at all times
  • DO fish only at designated public fishing ponds
  • DO only use the parking lot area if you must smoke

  • DO NOT take pets near wildlife enclosures
  • DO NOT harass captive or native wildlife especially for the sake of better viewing or photography
  • DO NOT use motorized or pedaled vehicles on the trails
  • DO NOT ride horses on the nature preserve
  • DO NOT swim in ponds
  • DO NOT collect animals, plants or other natural materials without specific consent
  • DO NOT hunt or trap wildlife without specific consent

In case of an emergency, dial 911 and tell the operator you are in Allegan County

Vertebrate Animals Room

Habitats Room

Habitats Room

The Visitor Center is home to North American wildlife exhibits with taxidermy and live animals. Visitors, young and old, will experience the wonders of nature through interpretive displays.

One wing of the building is dedicated to habitats. It displays taxidermy in dioramas designed especially for our collection by the team from Legends Taxidermy in Scottville, MI. Another display room has both live animals and taxidermy arranged to illustrate the five vertebrate animal groups.

A large multi-purpose room has mobile display carts that can be moved to make it a large meeting or presentation space. The wildlife viewing room looks out at the DeWitt Wildlife Enclosure where our resident elk herd can be found and provides views of the bird feeding station. The room also serves as a resting space with seating and a play area for small children.

Welcome Desk

Welcome Desk

The Visitors Center first opened in October 2015. The 5,000 sq ft facility was a long-planned vision of the organization with the original concept being discussed prior to the year 2000. It became part of the Building a Sustainable Future campaign that was launched in 2005. The building decor has been finished with reclaimed barn wood to help bring the feel of the outdoors inside.

The ODC Nature Preserve’s diverse property is home to a number of wild animals and plants. Highlights include:

    • 401 different vascular plant species (2004 Natural Features Inventory)
    • Seven different plant communities
      ODC Nature Preserve

      ODC Nature Preserve

      1. Submergent Marsh
      2. Emergent Marsh
      3. Southern Wet Meadow
      4. Shrub-Carr
      5. Transitional Hardwoods
      6. Remnant Dunes
      7. Field and Prairie Restoration
    • 26 species of mammals
    • 10 species of amphibians
    • 10 species of reptiles
    • 172 species of birds (ODC Nature Preserve Checklist)
Founders Hall

Founders Hall Classroom

In 1995 Fillmore Township officials decided to construct a new township hall building to better serve the needs of the community. With the construction of a new building, the 100 year old Township Hall was left vacant. Wildlife Unlimited of Allegan and Ottawa Counties, the founding organization of the Outdoor Discovery Center, was able to take ownership of the building. The old Fillmore Township Hall was located on 144th street, a little over a mile north of the ODC Nature Preserve. The building was moved to this site in 1996 where it now serves as a wildlife interpretive center.

Two long time supporters of conservation and wildlife education, John Zelenka and Marion VanSlooten, contributed gifts to Wildlife Unlimited of Allegan and Ottawa Counties in the late 1990’s to help develop an educational facility. They were also two founding members of the Michigan Chapter of Safari Club International. Along with the contribution of funds, they gifted taxidermy to outfit the wildlife classroom. The gifts provided a foundation of funds that were later used to create the Outdoor Discovery Center organization.

Today, over 60,000 people visit the ODC Nature Preserve to explore the outdoors, view wildlife and participate in outdoor education programs. What was once the Fillmore Township Hall now serves as the Center’s main interpretive building. The facility is used daily for classroom space, meetings and events.

In an effort to recognize two of the founding donors, Marion VanSlooten and John Zelenka, the Outdoor Discovery Center board of directors voted in 2006 to complete renovations of the building and officially name the facility Founders Hall. Until the addition of the Visitor Center, this was the one publicly accessible building on the ODC Nature Preserve. It contains some taxidermy exhibits, two live screech owls, and a honey bee hive and will continue to be a wildlife classroom used by students and groups for years to come. It is no longer open to the public for general visitation.

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

The De Witt Birds of Prey Education Center was built in 2016. It’s original location built in 2003 was near the Little Hawks Discovery Preschool along the “Raptor Trail”.

All of the birds housed in the facility have been permanently injured or disabled so that they can not return to the wild. We maintain permits with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to house the birds and use them for education purposes. Our bird handling staff have gone through a series of trainings to ensure that both birds and people are as safe as possible when husbandry or handling of the birds is taking place. No volunteers or non-permitted individuals are allowed to come in contact with the birds per our state and federal permits.

Neshnabe Village 01

Neshnabe Summer Village

This unique cultural history exhibit and program space explores the links between Native American cultures, traditions and the natural world. During programs, students learn the life ways of the People of the Three Fires Tribes (Chippewa, Ottawa, Potawatomi) using authentically reproduced artifacts and structures built by native and non-native people.

Structures in the village include:

Wah-gin-ogun – traditional bent pole wigwam using maple and tamarack saplings, white cedar bark covering, and basswood bark ties

W-jan-dow-gum-uk – traditional cook house with an open-sided structure made of osage orange poles, cedar and maple pole roof, and white cedar bark covering

Nuh-sweh-ogun – traditional three pole house similar to a teepee but when complete would be covered with cattail mats; a transitional house used when moving between seasonal homes

Nish-naw-bay Get-eh-gun – traditional Three Sister’s Garden demonstration area with corn, pole beans and pumpkins

Rocky Mountain Elk Bull

Rocky Mountain Elk Bull

This nearly 7 acre pasture facility houses our Rocky Mountain Elk herd. Depending on the year and the season, you may find between 3 and 8 individuals within the fenced area. We maintain the elk herd as a legacy to our founding organization (Wildlife Unlimited of Allegan and Ottawa Counties) and as part of an educational exhibit on cervidae…ruminant mammals with hooves and antlers.

Between the months of October and March when the elk has a full antler rack, use caution when near the fence. Between the months of October and March, keep at least 10 feet of space between you and the bull elk to ensure his and your own safety.

Imagination Forest

Imagination Forest

Research shows that children are healthier and more successful when they have ample unstructured play time in their lives. The Imagination Forest was created to provide a children’s play area that will inspire creative play using natural materials. Balance beam logs, stepping stumps, rocks, natural materials building area, and a sandbox are woven around trees and unmowed areas of this space. Two playhouses have been added to the area which create fun, activity centers for kids.

We hope this area provides an opportunity for fun, safe, free play for all children. The Imagination Forest is located near the main trailhead and has several benches for parents or caregivers to rest while children play. It is also conveniently located adjacent to the Discovery Pavilion for easy access to a restroom and picnic area.

Discovery Pavilion

Discovery Pavilion

The ODC Nature Preserve has three pavilions on-site that may be reserved. When they are not reserved by a group or being used for programming, they are open to the public.

  • all pavilions have picnic tables and a trash can
  • no fires or grills are permitted under pavilions (grills can only can be used when renting a pavilion and with explicit permission)
  • No banners, ribbons, or other decorations may be hung from the pavilions (even during rentals)

Discovery Pavilion – 60′ x 32′ pavilion with 24 picnic tables placed either under the pavilion or on the adjacent concrete pad (seating for 170 people), indoor restroom, near the main trailhead, Imagination Forest and DeWitt Wildlife Enclosure

VanDam Outdoor Classroom – 20′ x 30′ pavilion with eight picnic tables adjacent to a fishing pond (fishing by permission only), outhouse located approximately 1/8 mile down the trail, located in the middle of the ODC Nature Preserve

Spoelhof Outdoor Classroom – 20′ x 30′ pavilion with eight picnic tables adjacent to a fishing pond (fishing by permission only), outhouse located approximately 1/4 mile away at the Fillmore Discovery Park

Fillmore Discovery Park

Fillmore Discovery Park

The Fillmore Discovery Park is located on the southwest edge of the ODC Nature Preserve. The site was home to an avid outdoorsman, hunter and fisherman named Robert Vander Muelen and his young family. The ponds located immediately north of the park were sculpted and enlarged by Robert in order to provide enhanced habitat and a more diverse environment for local wildlife.

On April 19, 1985, Robert and his wife Linda and their son Joshua died in a plane crash on Beaver Island in northern Lake Michigan. They left behind their two young daughters, Rachel and Sarah. The house was sold and eventually destroyed before the property passed into the control of the ODCMG.

Upon discovering the plans in store for the property by the ODCMG, Rachel and Sarah raised funds from friends and family to begin redeveloping the site. With their help, the property was transformed into a park focused on connecting people and nature which was a cause near and dear to Robert and Linda Vander Muelen.

A major highlight of the park is that it has been developed as a natural playscape with numerous features that promote creative play in a natural environment. It also provides the only public fishing pond found on the ODC Nature Preserve. Limited parking for the park can be found at the 142nd Avenue entrance.

Kuipers Archery Education Facility

The Kuipers Archery Education Facility is NOT open to the public for archery. The area is used by school and organized groups for archery education including learning about early hunting technologies.

Members of the ODCMG may use the archery facility for target shooting after checking in with staff at Founders Hall. A written release must be signed and a safety training with one of our range masters must be completed prior to the first use by a member.

Equipment available for members use includes bag targets, genesis bows, recurve bows by request), and aluminum arrows. Members may bring their own equipment for target shooting but no broadhead or hunting points may be used.