Nature Play Area at Pleasant Valley

Nature play area at Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary

What is a Nature Play Area?

Nature play areas add more ways for people to connect with nature by encouraging self-directed, informal play.

Unlike static, traditional playgrounds, nature play areas give children the chance to solve problems and construct their surroundings through natural elements and unstructured exploration.

Explore Pleasant Valley’s Nature Play Area

Pleasant Valley’s Nature Play Area is about exploration and discovery. Children build imaginary fires within a primitive shelter or make gnome homes hidden among the trees. They can test their balance on the “stump jump” or across a fallen log. Large boulders are fun to climb and hidden among them are hand painted wildlife replicas–a bullfrog, spotted turtle, and spotted salamander among them. Don’t forget to leave a nature message behind using words on the “wood cookies.”


The Nature Play Area entrance is located across from the Pleasant Valley gift shop. A short level path offers access to strollers and wheelchairs.

Good to Know

The design was developed by a group of dedicated sanctuary volunteers and students who drew inspiration from the natural surroundings as well as other nature play areas across the state.

Funding from the Coolidge Hill Foundation supported the work of two students, Betsy Baczek and Kara Curtin, to develop interactive play structures that appeal to different senses, including sound and touch. Construction costs and materials for the project were funded by a generous private donation and volunteers installed different nature play elements last spring.

As children continue to use the play area, it will evolve–please let us know if you have ideas!