Beat the winter blues at the nature center

Published 11:07 am Saturday, January 13, 2018

Are you looking for something to do on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon?

Get out to the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center to cure some of that cabin fever.

Test your knowledge of the new exhibits with the new building scavenger hunts for various ages.  During the week and most Saturday’s around 10 a.m. or 3:30 p.m. you can learn about how snakes survive in the winter and maybe even touch one.

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Not into that, check out Guka, the barred owl and Sha and Wiyaka the red tail hawks or just grab a book from the Gordon Lonning Resource room and sit by the fireplace to relax.  The trails are always open if not for skiing you can usually walk them.

Have you ever given it a thought to join the Friends of the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center?

The benefits of being a member include the semiannual newsletter, an invitation to the Friends Annual Meeting, $5 off each child’s fee for all summer adventure programs, $5 off tickets to the Thanksgiving feast, members-only bus tour field trips, members-only events and classes for youth and families at the nature center, an opportunity to give a one-year gift membership to a non-member and an opportunity to support and promote environmental education programming.

A membership can also make a great gift to give.  You can even sign up on line. Go to click on “get involved” and then Friends of Hormel Nature Center. It is as easy as that to start to enjoy the benefits.

Watch for further notice regarding cross country ski and snowshoe rentals at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center.

When we have a measurable snow fall they will begin their free Thursday afternoon ski and snowshoe rentals from 3 to 6 p.m.

To check on ski conditions you can go to, click on programs, ski rental and click the skinnyski page. You are not required to have a Minnesota Ski Pass to ski within the nature center.

Warming houses

Open warming house hours are as follows:

Kaufman Park: 6-9 p.m. Monday through Friday; 1-5 p.m. and 6-9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Galloway and Skinners Hill: 6-9 p.m. on Friday; 1-5 and 6-9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Patrons are allowed to use the skating rinks when warming houses are not open.

There may be times that the warming house is not open as we are still filling spots. There are also times that an operator may be coming from another schedule so it may not open until 6:30 p.m.


We would like to invite you to set up your online account. This will allow you to register for Parks and Recreation and Nature Center programs.  Currently you can sign up for the youth volleyball camp and archery.  You will also be able to request facility rentals for your private events.

The link will be at and click on City Departments. Click on online registration. From there click on the Registration tab, youth and the programs will be listed.

If you have not created you account when you click on the register tab it will ask you to log in or create an account. Please call with any questions.

Camps and leagues

Pickleball: Open gym continues on Wednesday evenings at Ellis Middle School starting on Jan. 3.

Pickleball nets will be in the auxiliary gym, 6:30-8 p.m. The cost is $2 per person at the door.


The Austin High School Dome will be offering some open times on the following dates:  Jan 23, Feb 6 and 20, March 6 and 20, April 3 and 17.

The cost is $2 per child and $5 per adult. During these same dates they will offer the use of the golf nets at $5 per player.

Riverside Arena

Riverside Figure Skate Club: Sundays from 1-5 p.m.

Austin hockey: Girls varsity  vs. Mankato East,  7  p.m. Tuesday and vs. Red Wing on Thurdsay.

Austin Bruins: 2 p.m. Jan. 26, 27 and 28.

Packer Arena

Public skate: 6:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday; 4:30-6:30 p.m. Saturday; 2:45-5 p.m., Jan. 27.