|Description: It might come as a surprise that one of the most wonderful and accessible natural
areas in the state exists in the heart of New York City. Yet Central Park both epitomizes
and counters the stereotype of what constitutes a city park. At more than
800 acres and dominating 51 blocks of some of the world’s most valuable real
estate, the park is an inspiring combination of architecture, landscape design and
A wide variety of natural habitats is contained in this carefully landscaped park.
There are woodlands for songbirds, wildflower meadows and grassy streamside
areas for insects, and ponds for fish and turtles. Despite Central Park’s popularity
with millions of city residents and visitors, an amazing array of wildlife can
be seen there. It is on one of North America’s major bird migration routes, and
in spring and fall, more than 275 migratory bird species have been sighted
Impressive rock outcroppings of Manhattan schist, the bedrock that supports the
city’s many skyscrapers, are located throughout the park. One of the largest surviving
stands of American elms grows along the mall between 68th and 72nd
streets. At 100th Street, just off East Drive, a meadow is planted with native wildflowers
that bloom throughout the warmer months.
Along the shore of Turtle Pond at 79th Street grows a wonderful array of milkweed,
cattails, asters, mallows and coneflowers—habitat for bees, butterflies,
dragonflies and hummingbirds. The Central Park Conservancy has a website (see
Contact section below) where you can find a list of which flowers should be
blooming each month.
Wildlife to Watch: Harlem Meer, a lake in the northeast corner, attracts mallards, black ducks,
Canada geese, mute swans and wading birds such as the great blue heron and
black-crowned night heron. The wooded, 38-acre Ramble, in the center of the
park, offers the best birding. Turtle Pond is also an excellent birdwatching area.
Enthusiastic birders and park rangers assemble daily at Belvedere Castle to
share their knowledge with visitors. Red-tailed hawks and peregrine falcons are
often spotted from the upper terraces of the castle. Warblers and ruby-throated
hummingbirds are frequent visitors at various times of the year in the beautiful
Migrating monarch butterflies stop to feed on Central Park’s wildflowers in the
fall as they travel to remote mountain valleys of south-central Mexico—an epic
journey that continues through several generations of butterflies!
Central Park’s many water bodies are great places to see dragonflies, painted
turtles and snapping turtles. And on summer evenings, little brown bats are
often seen pursuing a meal of flying insects.
Special Tips: Central Park opens at 6 a.m. and closes at 1 a.m. every day, yearround.
More than 25 million people visit annually. Four visitor centers
and a gift shop are located in the park. Guided and self-guided tours
are available. Restrooms are located throughout the park. Several roads
are open to vehicle traffic.
Facilities in Central Park are fully accessible.
Ownership: NYC Department of Parks and Recreation
Size: 843 acres
Closest Town: Manhattan
Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing: