Gulf Branch Nature Center

Gulf Branch Nature Center Free and open to the public six days a week. Check out our live animals and exhibits, attend a virtual or in-person program, explore the park, and more!
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Please note: The nature center is temporarily closed due to Covid-19; however the park is open and naturalists are still providing outdoor programming! See below for more info. Set in a wooded stream valley, Gulf Branch Natural Area preserves and protects wildlife habitat while serving as an educational and recreational resource for the public. Staffed by friendly naturalists, the nature center houses exhibits about local natural and cultural history as well as live animals. Outside, visitors may check in with the barred owl and explore wooded trails, the stream, the pond, or the 3/4 mile trail to the Potomac River. Also located at the park are the Robert Walker Log House and a working forge operated by the Blacksmith's Guild of the Potomac. All of our programs and events can be found in our quarterly publication. Come in and pick-up a copy or access it on-line: https://parks.arlingtonva.us/nature-history/ Come visit, there's always something new to see!

Open with service changes

Happy #wildlifewednesdays! Most of us know if you roll over a log you’ll find critters living underneath. It’s also impo...
08/12/2020

Happy #wildlifewednesdays! Most of us know if you roll over a log you’ll find critters living underneath. It’s also important to look on and around the log. Dead logs have a lot of habitat potential, mainly because they hold moisture. Here’s one log in our stream bed and the fungi and plants that were growing on it.

DYK that this year the Arlington County Fair is going virtual?? Tune in later this week from August 14th - 16th for all ...
08/11/2020

DYK that this year the Arlington County Fair is going virtual?? Tune in later this week from August 14th - 16th for all kinds of fun virtual activities! You can even catch us introducing the owl at Gulf Branch! https://arlingtoncountyfair.us/

08/11/2020
Kicking the week off with another #MysteryMonday post! Can you guess what's in the image?  Post your guess below and we'...
08/10/2020

Kicking the week off with another #MysteryMonday post! Can you guess what's in the image? Post your guess below and we'll reveal the answer tomorrow! Thanks to everyone who continues to "jump" in with guesses. :)

The white wood asters and cardinal flowers are blooming and looking beautiful after today's rain!
08/09/2020

The white wood asters and cardinal flowers are blooming and looking beautiful after today's rain!

Thanks to everyone who joined us for our Pre-K program today!  We had a great time learning about the rain and where rai...
08/07/2020

Thanks to everyone who joined us for our Pre-K program today! We had a great time learning about the rain and where rain goes through stories and songs. We also built leaf boats and floated them down Gulf Branch towards the Potomac River!

Check out all the green frogs at the pond today!  There's quite a chorus happening out there!
08/07/2020

Check out all the green frogs at the pond today! There's quite a chorus happening out there!

08/07/2020

This Red-femured Spotted Orbweaver was hanging out at the nature center. Orbweavers often build a new web every day. Some consume the old web before building their new one. They construct the non-sticky framework first before spinning the circular part which is sticky.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CDkpy_Oj--N/?igshid=wfuk9d43ey3v

08/06/2020

This Carolina Mantis nymph is looking for food while trying to remain inconspicuous on a Lizards Tail flowerhead at the pond.

08/06/2020
08/05/2020

Happy #WildlifeWednesday! We clipped an iPhone to a measuring wheel to get in close to a yellowjacket nest. When the nest is started, it’s just the queen and she’s laying eggs to get started producing workers. Later in the summer when there are more workers they begin to produce new queens and males. When these reproductive adults are in the nest, the workers become much more aggressive in defending their colony. And you can see from this video that it’s a very busy time of year. No naturalists were harmed in the making of this video.

Some great finds today on our walk after the rain!
08/04/2020

Some great finds today on our walk after the rain!

08/04/2020
Happy Monday!  Here's another #MysteryMonday for today!  What do you think is pictured here?  Write your guess in the co...
08/03/2020

Happy Monday! Here's another #MysteryMonday for today! What do you think is pictured here? Write your guess in the comments and we'll reveal the answer tomorrow! :)

08/02/2020
Homemade Butterfly Catcher + Other Outdoor Hacks | LIFE HACKS FOR KIDS

Interested in getting a closer look at butterflies and other insects? Create your own butterfly net using an old laundry bag at home! We recommend creating a longer, sturdier handle than is used here, so that you don't injure yourself or the butterflies! #SundayFunDay https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6X2VZyy0dY

Get ready to PARK it and have some fun. I'm making a Magnificent Monarch Butterfly Catcher, a Very Visible Visor made of folders, and an Easy-Peasy Frisbee m...

07/31/2020
Five Minute Finds - Ants & Aphids

Nature is all around us, constantly in motion whether we notice or not. In Five Minute Finds we will spotlight many of these little-noticed or unseen wonders in five minutes or less. Today we meet two species who benefit from each other.

https://youtu.be/-wFfHxqjAEU

A reminder  that our mobile project is still happening, you can still contribute, and we definitely still need your help...
07/29/2020

A reminder that our mobile project is still happening, you can still contribute, and we definitely still need your help! Tune in for an upcoming "Fold With Us" program on FB live, or simply fold on your own and send your creations in once they are complete!

07/29/2020

Happy #WildlifeWednesdays everybody! Where do damselflies go at night? Just like birds, they roost. Around our pond we have a dense growth of jewelweed and lizard's tail, providing great cover for these beautiful creatures to rest. The species pictured here are Fragile Forktails. (Identification tip: note the gap in the green stripe on the thorax, producing what looks like an exclamation point.)

https://www.instagram.com/p/CDOioZoDP7w/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

07/28/2020
Top Predators of the DMV

If you missed our "Top Predators of the DMV" program last Thursday, you can still tune in here to learn more about the top cats, canines, and other predators in our region - including coyotes! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWldlQ1wIYg

Join an Arlington County park naturalist to learn what it means to be at the top of the food chain. Who were the top cats and canines in our area historicall...

07/27/2020
Another #MysteryMonday to start the week!  Can you figure out what's in the image below?  Post your guess in the comment...
07/27/2020

Another #MysteryMonday to start the week! Can you figure out what's in the image below? Post your guess in the comments and we'll reveal the answer tomorrow!

07/26/2020
Flower Craft - Easy Paper Flower Craft for Kids and Adults

Many of our wildflowers continue to bloom throughout the summer months, inlcuding chicory, Queen Anne's lace, all types of goldenrod, asters, etc. If you want to bring the beauty indoors, try making some pretty paper flowers using materials you have around home! #SundayFunDay https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1l-U_Kob1U

This fun step by step tutorial on how to make flower craft is easy to follow and fun to make. Easy paper crafts for kids and adults. Perfect paper craft for ...

Coyotes in the fort!Earlier this week, a trail camera at Fort C.F. Smith Park snapped this photo of a coyote moving acro...
07/26/2020

Coyotes in the fort!

Earlier this week, a trail camera at Fort C.F. Smith Park snapped this photo of a coyote moving across the fort's gun emplacements. We are very excited to see these local predators back in the park! Have you seen them in your neighborhood?

07/26/2020
The corn in our "Three Sisters Garden" is blooming!  Corn is a grass, and like most grasses, it is pollinated with the h...
07/25/2020
Evolution of Corn

The corn in our "Three Sisters Garden" is blooming! Corn is a grass, and like most grasses, it is pollinated with the help of the wind. The pollen from the male tassels at the top of the plant makes it's way down to the female "silk" - where the ear of corn will, hopefully, grow. Each individual strand of silk must be pollinated for every kernel of corn to develop. If each strand is not pollinated, the ear of corn won't be fully developed! Corn, or maize, is an amazing plant that is the result of many thousands of years of human intervention. It was first cultivated by people who lived in what is now Mexico! https://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/evolution/corn/

The rain last night carried a lot of sediment (and probably caused some additional erosion) to Gulf Branch.  What was a ...
07/24/2020
Gulf Branch Stream Restoration - Projects & Planning

The rain last night carried a lot of sediment (and probably caused some additional erosion) to Gulf Branch. What was a clear stream yesterday is definitely muddy today! Stream restoration work is planned for Gulf Branch to help with some of these issues. You can learn more and weigh in on the process here: https://projects.arlingtonva.us/projects/gulf-branch-stream-restoration/

As part of Arlington County’s efforts to protect our local streams, Gulf Branch was identified as a high priority for stream restoration because of habitat degradation, active erosion and infrastructure concerns.

Address

3608 Military Rd
Arlington, VA
22207

Opening Hours

Tuesday 10:00 - 17:00
Wednesday 10:00 - 17:00
Thursday 10:00 - 17:00
Friday 10:00 - 17:00
Saturday 10:00 - 17:00
Sunday 13:00 - 17:00

Telephone

(703) 228-3403

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Our Story

Gulf Branch Nature Center has been a part of the Arlington community for more than 50 years! From the time it first opened, Gulf Branch naturalists have fostered an appreciation and love for the local environment within the community. Back then, youth hiked, played, created artwork, built birdhouses, and learned about the natural world – much the same way youth participating in programs today do! Over the years, Gulf Branch has expanded its range of programs to include something for all ages! Come hike in the park, play in the stream, visit with the animals, chat with the naturalists, or attend a nature program! Contact us to learn more!

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Comments

Unfortunately, I have a conflict. Will Top Predators of the DMV on Thursday be recorded and available later? Thanks.
Thank you Gulf Branch Nature Center naturalists Maddy and Ken for a fun Snake Campfire tonight. Also great info learning about the Catalpa Caterpillar/Moths that we spotted!
Does Gulf Branch have any Earth Day events planned? I wanna put together a list of volunteer activities to share with my high school Bio students over at Yorktown.
Please tell us more details about your upcoming Bat Fest.