Western Trips

Western Trips

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Heard Museum McKinney

heard museum mckinney
Heard Museum McKinney main building
The Heard Museum in McKinney is a museum and much more. Located in the Dallas suburb of McKinney Texas, the Heard facility there is named the Heard Natural Science & Wildlife Sanctuary. When you speak about a museum, the Heard facility is really a beautiful sanctuary just outside the city limits. You'll want to be certain to take your camera, a lunch and plenty of bottled water because there are so many walking and hiking trails to enjoy.The Heard Natural Science & Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the best places in the Dallas Texas area for a fun, educational and low cost family outing.

Bessie Heard of McKinney Texas 

When you visit the Heard Natural Science & Wildlife Sanctuary in McKinney Texas you're realizing the dream of Miss Bessie Heard. Bessie loved trees and her first civic endeavor in McKinney Texas was a tree planting project that visitors to the city today can still view. Interestingly enough, born in 1886 Miss Bessie Heard was of the age of eighty years when she made the decision to establish a place in north Texas so that all future generations could enjoy nature.

texas hiking trails
Boardwalk along the Wood Duck Trail
The Heard Museum McKinney opened in 1967 and was an instant hit. The museum today boasts an annual visitor count of over 100,000 people. The museum's goal is education, conservation and preservation. What you'll see today at the Heard Natural Science & Wildlife Sanctuary is a haven for more than 240 species of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. You'll also have the opportunity to explore about 150 species of wildflowers. Also offered at the Heard are night hikes as well as adult nature education classes. Exhibits at the Heard Museum provide valuable learning opportunities for the more than 20,000 students who visit each year

The Trails at the Heard Natural Science & Wildlife Sanctuary

Western Trips was fortunate to visit this venue and enjoyed several of the fine hiking trails. Your hike at the Heard is essentially a hike through nature. The Heard is located in a pretty setting that offers guided nature walks and other activities on a regular basis.

The Heard Natural Science & Wildlife Sanctuary will offer you over 6.5 miles of self-guided and interpreted nature trails that wind though the diverse habitats of their 289 acre wildlife sanctuary. There are eight trails in all. 

heard natural wildlife sanctuary
Interpretive display along the trail
The trails at the Heard Natural Science & Wildlife Sanctuary are open whenever the museum is open. One of the fun and interesting trails Western Trips was able to walk was the Bluestem Trail. Here is a one mile round trip loop trail which the museum states offers the best views of the prairie. 

Another fun walking trail we enjoyed is the Wood Duck Trail. This trail is one mile long which offers the best views of the wetlands environment. The Wood Duck Trail travels along both an overland trail and a boardwalk trail. 

Indoor and Outdoor Exhibits

One of the unique things about visiting the Heard Natural Science & Wildlife Sanctuary is that in addition to the fun walking and hiking trails is the fact that exhibits are explored both inside the museum building and outside. Outside includes even an amphitheater which is the venue for special exhibits scheduled throughout the year.

Outside you can walk through the wildlife exhibit called "Animals of the World". Here you can view a collection of animals that change from time to time. Some animals on exhibit at the Heard are loaned to the museum for a specified period. The exhibit is set up to teach visitors about the animals and the role they play on earth. 

wild animal exhibits
Animals of the World exhibit
Another very interesting and unique exhibit outside of the main museum building is the "Native Texas Butterfly Garden". Enter the butterfly house and walk among a wide variety of Texas butterflies. The Butterfly Garden is planted with host plants that naturally attract a wide range of butterflies. It's also a great place to take some very unique pictures.

The Heard Museum's indoor exhibits offer a fine interactive environment where visitors can discover, enjoy and experience various aspects of the Texas natural environment. As an example of interactive opportunities for children are Main exhibits at the museum change from time to time which means you can visit the museum grounds several times and see something new each time. As an example, as of this writing the Heard Museum is exhibiting Texas venomous snakes, rocks, minerals and fossils, seashells and marine life, North Texas ecosystems, a children's fossil dig, and a  marine room among even more  Included among past exhibits at the Heard have included the theme of dinosaurs. 

The Heard Museum also offers a gift shop with fun and educational items that are perfect for children and go along with the museum's theme of nature education.

Links below are to two additional Western Trips photo articles relating to more fun family stops around the greater Dallas Texas area. They include;

Texas Electric Railroad Museum 

Perot Museum of Nature and Science

texas butterflies
Butterfly House
Visiting the
Heard Natural Science & Wildlife Sanctuary

Make sure to plan ahead for both museum hours and any special events and exhibitions scheduled. 

The museum is located at 1 Nature Place , McKinney Texas. McKinney is located about thirty miles north/northeast of downtown Dallas. For all information about hours and current exhibits as well as detailed directions on how to get there from various parts of the Dallas Metroplex see website www.heardmuseum.org

The Heard Natural Wildlife Sanctuary is a terrific day trip while in the Dallas Texas area. The Heard McKinney offers a perfect family outing opportunity.  

(Photos are from author's private collection)

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