Bird flying in Baker wetlands

Hands-On Learning Experience

Baker University Wetlands & Discovery Center

Located just 10 miles north of the Baldwin City campus, the Baker University Wetlands & Discovery Center is a true distinction for the university in its region.

Baker Wetlands

Discovery Center

1365 N. 1250 Road, Lawrence KS 66046

One of the most diverse habitats in Kansas

The Baker Wetlands encompasses 927 acres of rich, natural wildlife.

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Students, faculty, and nature lovers have identified 278 species of birds, 98 other vertebrate species, and 487 plant species at the Wetlands—and these counts grow with each adventure. This exceptional environment gives students a unique opportunity for increased exploration and education about biological and ecological processes.

The Baker University Wetlands work takes place on ancestral land belonging to the original stewards of these lands and watersheds: the Kaw Nation, the Osage Nation, the Kickapoo Tribe, as well as those tribal communities represented by Haskell Indian National University. We acknowledge the living history and contributions of the indigenous communities who inhabited this land before the establishment of the Baker University Wetlands.

The Baker University Wetlands Discovery Center & Hours

Monday – Friday
9 a.m. – noon & 1 – 3 p.m.

The Baker University Wetlands and Discovery Center is a paradise for our student biologists, ecologists, biochemists, and pre-health professionals. But our students aren’t the only beneficiaries of the stunning 927-acre natural habitat.  Stargazers, bird watchers, and exercise enthusiasts are always bustling around the area, which is open to the public. Located just 10 miles north of the Baldwin City Campus, the Baker Wetlands is a true distinction for the university in its region.

Wetlands Rules

  • Do not venture off trails. Designated trails are maintained around the property and can be used by hikers and bikers.
  • Parking lots and trails are open daily from sunrise to sunset. Please do not visit the park after sunset.
  • Dogs must be leashed and under your control at all times. Please clean up after your pet.
  • Pack it in, pack it out. A trash receptacle can be found be the Discovery Center front door. Remember the Leave No Trace principles.
  • No ATVs, motorized vehicles, or battery-powered vehicles are allowed on our trails. This excludes motorized chairs used by individuals with mobility issues. If you have questions, please contact the Discovery Center.
  • Bikes and dogs are not allowed on the boardwalk.
  • No hunting, fishing, or trapping is allowed anywhere on the property.
  • Please do not collect items and remove them from the park. Examples include flowers, feathers, eggs and shells, nests, fur, or living animals. Leave them for others to see!

These rules are set in place to protect you and the wildlife that inhabits this land. Venturing off trails, letting your dog run loose, and driving vehicles on our property can increase the spread of invasives and can endanger native wildlife, your pets, and you. Our staff has motorized vehicles for management purposes. Please be aware that we are out on the property working to maintain the land.


Hiking Trails

More than 11 miles of trails are open from dawn to dusk so you can hike the Wetlands to your heart’s content.

Download a Map


Upcoming Events

Dates, times, and attendance size for scheduled programs is subject to change with new COVID-19 restrictions and protocols. For all program information, cancellations, and postponements, visit our Facebook page at Baker University Wetlands.

Registration is REQUIRED for all programs. To register, email Bluebird Taylor at or call 785.594.4703.


[tribe_events view=”list” category=”wetlands” exclude-category=”music”]

Reserve a Room | Schedule a Program

Groups visiting from other facilities or organizations with 10 or more people, including children, should schedule their visit in advance. This ensures they do not overlap with other scheduled groups or large programs.

The Wetlands staff reserves the right to ask unscheduled groups to delay their visit if the center is busy. Groups may schedule their visit by phone or email.

Contact Us
Lucy McCleary, 785.594.4700

One of the Most Beautiful Spots in the Country

The Baker Wetlands is stunning. But don’t just take our word for it: Check out what HouseBeautiful magazine said when it declared the Wetlands the most beautiful place in Kansas.

Frog by the water at the baker wetlands

Species in The Baker University Wetlands



of our electricity is produced by a 10 KWH solar array.

History of the Baker Wetlands

The Wakarusa and Kansas River floodplains have developed since the Pre-Illinoian Glacial Period ended more than 300,000 years ago. The two rivers differ significantly from each other because of the actions of this glacier and their source. The Kansas River primarily runs through various layers of sandstone and therefore its sandy substrate allows for significant meandering across a very wide basin. The Wakarusa, however, cuts through an area that was less impacted by glaciers and consists primarily of slate, shale, limestone, silt, and clay. The channel is more resistant to movement and thus the meanders in the past have been less significant, and its valley is much narrower. Its banks are steep and muddy.

Ice Age Development

Pre-Haskell Era

Haskell Era

Baker University Acquisition

Wetlands Return

South Lawrence Trafficway (SLT)

South Lawrence Trafficway: Phase I

Completion of SLT & Mitigation: Phase II

Dr. Irene Unger

Professor of Biology, Director of the Baker Wetlands | 785.594.4702

“I fell in love with the Baker Wetlands at first sight and am thrilled to be the director of Baker Wetlands. It was my love of nature that drove me to study ecology. I hope to instill that same love in my students while at the same time preparing them to address the pressing environmental issues of our time. I hope that all Baker students will explore the Wetlands. They are truly a special place that change daily—so come out often to see what’s in bloom or what birds have stopped over during migration!”

B.S. Truman State University, M.S. St. Louis University, Ph.D. University of Missouri at Columbia
Expertise: plant-soil-microbe interactions, terrestrial plant ecology
Office: Boyd Science Center 226 & Wetlands Discovery Center

Lucy McCleary

Amenities & Services Manager

“As a Lawrence native, the Baker University Wetlands has always been one of my favorite places to visit. Now as a student in ecology and a staff member, I am super excited to really get to know the Wetlands! I am excited to bring in new things through this position and to see how many new bird species I can collect for my life list.”

Office: Baker Wetlands Discovery Center, 1365 N. 1250 Road

David Popp

Facilities and Operations Manager

Office: Baker Wetlands Discovery Center, 1365 N. 1250 Road

Bluebird Taylor-McKown (she/her)

Naturalist Supervisor

Bluebird Taylor-McKown has been working as a naturalist since 2010, working in natural areas from California to Kansas. She studied environmental analysis and design in the School of Social Ecology at the University of California, Irvine, specializing in habitat restoration, conservation, education, and protecting Native American sacred sites. She has worked with policy makers alongside the Sierra Club, the Wilderness Society, and Nature for All to create and maintain environmental education in all of our communities. Today, she continues her work educating on the importance of native habitat restoration, conservation, and biodiversity at the Baker University Wetlands Discovery Center.

Office: Baker Wetlands Discovery Center, 1365 N. 1250 Road

The Wetlands Discovery Center

The Baker Wetlands is located on the south side of Lawrence in Douglas County in northeastern Kansas, approximately 45 miles west of Kansas City. From US 59 on the south side of the South Lawrence Trafficway and K10 interchange, turn east on N. 1250 Road and go 0.7 miles to the parking lot of the Discovery Center. Follow signs to the entrance. From 31st Street come south on a new road called Michigan (opposite the Menards Store) to N 1250 Road, turn left (east) 0.2 mi to the Discovery Center parking lot.


Minutes from Baldwin City


Minutes from Kansas City 1365 N 1250 Road, Lawrence, KS 66046

1365 N 1250 Road Lawrence, KS 66046

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Discovery Center 1365 N 1250 Road, Lawrence, KS 66046
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