The Sally Manzara Interpretive Nature Center is open for visitors. Due to the increase in COVID19 impact in our area, our Board has ordered a “Masks Required” policy for people over 5 years old visiting inside the nature center. This policy will be reviewed regularly as guidance changes. Masks are available at the reception desk for those who have none.

Hours are 9 AM to 4 PM Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. The Schedule for Saturday is 9AM to Noon. Stop at the reception desk for a scavenger hunt sheet, a trail map, and other information, or check out kid’s binoculars, magnifying glasses, bug-catchers, clipboard, etc… Complimentary Coffee and Tea are available. A few more reception volunteers are needed. If you, or you and a friend, enjoy talking with people and providing information, and would like to help, please email Please contact Connie at 651-491-3853 and she will try to convince you to give it a try – with no obligation!

Sunfish Lake Park will be Closed for deer population reduction October 25-25 and November 8-10, for information call the number below, 651-430-8370:

The Eagles are Here!

We have been watching to see who built the big nest to the West of the nature center – now we know! The kids can sit on the “eggs” and try to hatch them.

Grace has finished the 2021 Mammal Survey of Sunfish Lake Park and you can see the pictures and read the report:

When you walk the trails in Sunfish Lake Park, look for the new navigation signs and the QR code/compass direction indicators. The QR code links to the Trail Info page on this website, which will provide specific information about each marked point. The compass will help us who are directionally challenged to find our way, even on cloudy days!

If you plan to use the biking trails, please check for trail condition information.

You may visit any time the Park is open (daylight hours), walk the trail around the nature center, and read “Bear Snores On” by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman. The story is suitable for young readers. The story trail program was initiated with the cooperation of the Washington County Library. Our storybook holders are lined up along the trail that surrounds the nature center, come and read the story (suitable for kids with grandparents). On the other side of the holders we have placed the illustrated version of Emy’s Guide to the Animals of Sunfish Lake Park. You may not have heard, but Emy is the Director of Animal Communications at the Sally Manzara Interpretive Nature Center, and she has a quirky way of telling a story. Follow this link to read it.

The bees are doing well. Four volunteers are running a beekeeping program. They set up an apiary, and an observation hive in the nature center, where visitors can watch the bees make wax, honey, and more bees! And try to spot the Queen. Check out the apiary building activity on YouTube – .Thanks Paul, Bob, and Craig!

Activities to Download

We are offering free downloads of nature-based activities – click on “Activities to Download” in the tabs above. These activities include illustrated nature Scavenger Hunt sheets, Nature Journal pages, Word Find Puzzles at different levels of difficulty, other Games, and Trail Guide information.

Or plan a DO IT YOURSELF POLLINATOR GARDEN– attract and nourish pollinators. Click here to find links to various websites that provide help in setting up a pollinator garden on your own property – small or large!

More information about native plant gardening is found on the DIY links tab above.

Or Start a Nature Observation diary. This activity is called “Phenology” Open this link to view an example phenology journal by Chad Kaddatz.

We have a flagpole where you may fly the United States flag in honor of a veteran or first responder. Installation was arranged by Matthew Bohlig as an Eagle Scout project. Please click on “Flagpole Reservations” tab for information on how to reserve this location.

Volunteers are tending the Rain Garden, Prairie Plant Specimen Planters, and Monarch Waystation – they are all displaying the appropriate behavior for the late Summer of a dry year.

We have made great progress in upgrading our interior exhibits, now that we are open, you can see and experience them.

We have done the Fall 2020 nesting survey of the birdhouse trail, and found much more nesting activity this year. To see the illustrated report of the 2019 Birdhouse Nesting Survey, click on this link:  SMINC Birdhouse survey 11-29-19 w pics    For further information on the birdhouse project, click on the Exhibits, Trail Guides and Science Projects tab above.

For volunteer opportunities, go to the Volunteer or Intern page.

The Friends of Lake Elmo’s Sunfish Lake Park rely on donations to operate the Sally Manzara Interpretive Nature Center as a community resource within our Mission.  Please click on the “How to Donate” page and help us if you can.