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Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History
Description: The Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History is named for the legendary naturalist and author of a renowned field guide series. Peterson was born in Jamestown on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in western New York. Here, in this small town on the Allegheny Plateau, Peterson first developed his love of nature as a young boy. His institute is a national environmental education organization dedicated to instilling in children an appreciation and understanding of the natural world.

The institute building is an architectural gem, housing a museum and galleries showcasing the work of the iconic American bird painter, as well as other contemporary nature artists. Visitors can also enjoy acres of woods and wetlands surrounding the institute.

Wildlife to Watch: Don’t miss the garden designed by Peterson’s wife Virginia to attract butterflies and ruby-throated hummingbirds. Along with colorful varieties of dragonflies, the property’s ponds and wetlands harbor painted and snapping turtles and northern water and common garter snakes. Amphibians commonly seen include green, bull and leopard frogs, as well as a variety of salamanders.

Canada geese, mallards and wood ducks are the most commonly encountered waterfowl. Wading birds include green and great blue herons. Red-winged blackbirds and tree swallows also frequent the wetlands. Catbirds, eastern phoebes, pileated woodpeckers, hooded warblers and purple finches appear in the woods. Great horned owls are sometimes seen and heard at dusk when they begin their nocturnal hunts.

White-tailed deer, eastern gray, red and big eastern fox squirrels, eastern chipmunks, woodchucks and cottontail rabbits are frequently seen.

Special Tips: The institute is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Trails are open from dawn to dusk. There is an admission fee for the museum, but the trails are free.

Call ahead for information on accessibility.

800-758-6841, 311 Curtis St., Jamestown, NY 14701


Other Activities: An interpretive trail provides guidance on plant and animal identification using the Peterson Field Guides. The trails wind through a variety of habitats, including forest, field and marsh.

Ownership: Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History 
Size: 27 acres 
Closest Town: Jamestown

RestroomsParkingHikingVisitor CenterFeeDrinking Water

Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing:

Wood Duck - Photo by Gerry Lemmo
Please see map link below

Driving Directions:
From downtown Jamestown, take NY Route 60 north and turn right onto Horton Rd. just past the city limits. Take the first right onto Curtis St., then turn right into the institute driveway.

Map Link

Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History : Wildlife Viewing Area