I recently wrote this article for our local papers:
Coming Soon: Audubon Days at Panama Rocks
by Jennifer Schlick
OK, I’ll be honest: I don’t often go hiking places where I can’t take my dog. That’s why Panama Rocks fell off my radar. And then for Christmas, I received a season pass. So, on Mother’s Day, Lolli the Pup stayed home and I went with my husband and daughters to a place I hadn’t experienced in years. We picnicked first, then headed out to explore the trails, scavenger hunt clues in hand. We scrambled up to get closer views of some of the formations. We rested for a bit on a nice outcropping and set the camera timer to get a great family photo. We cooled off at the Ice Crevice where there was still snow! We read all the signs, and figured out all the clues – and yes! We found the treasure! We had such a great time I’ve been back twice since. Poor Lolli.
If you haven’t been in a while (or ever?), I encourage you to join the Audubon Nature Center staff and volunteers at Panama Rocks on Saturday or Sunday, August 1 and 2, 2015.
The trails are rugged, but not too difficult. Or, you can MAKE it difficult by scrambling up the rock faces, or squeezing yourself through narrow passages, the most famous of which appears on the map as Fat Man’s Misery.
The park has been privately owned and in operation since 1885. The current owners, Craig & Sandi Weston, purchased the park in 1979 and have been working to restore historic buildings and protect the natural beauty for the thousands of visitors that explore from May through October. During one of my visits, a conversation with Craig & Sandi’s son Jonathan about partnerships led to this grand experiment – a collaboration between Panama Rocks and Audubon Nature Center.
August 1 and 2, 2015 have been dubbed Audubon Days at Panama Rocks. Nature Center staff and volunteers will be available at the Rocks to answer your questions about nature, programs at the Nature Center, and more. In addition, there will be activities for children, guided nature walks, and maybe even a few of our education animals. Folks who join or renew their membership in the Audubon Friends of the Nature Center group will get 14 months for the price of 12. There will also be a drawing for a free one-year membership.
I’m especially looking forward to the geology and forestry walks that will be led by Tom Erlandson and Dan Anderson. Both are retired instructors from Jamestown Community College and both have a wealth of knowledge to share. At 10:30am, you may choose either Geology or Trees. The walks will repeat in the afternoon as follows: On Saturday, Geology is 1:30pm and Trees is at 3:30pm; on Sunday, Trees is at 1:30pm and Geology is at 3:30pm.
Saturday visitors will enjoy music by Gary Cuckler and Dave Moller from about 2:00pm until 4:00pm. Sunday visitors will be serenaded by Bill Moran. We’re working on a few other surprises… but not everything was in place when this article went to print!
Panama Rocks is open daily from 10:00am until 5:00pm during the spring, summer, and fall. Every day, including during Audubon Days, regular Panama Rocks admissions will be in effect: general admission is $7.50, children ages 6-12 are $5, children ages 5 and under free. Panama Rocks is generously donating a portion of each admission to the Nature Center on Audubon Days, so your fee will be helping TWO nature organizations at the same time!
We are hoping to make this the biggest attendance weekend of the summer for Panama Rocks. And since word of mouth is always the best advertising, won’t you help us spread the word? Tell your friends – in person, preferably, or if you are on Facebook, join the event at https://www.facebook.com/events/ 692951320836189/, then invite your friends to go with you. Bring a picnic, blanket, lawn games. Perhaps you know people who are coming to Jamestown for the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival. Maybe they would like to spend a morning or afternoon exploring nature before heading downtown.To minimize the impact on the scenic area, please plan to picnic on the upper grounds where picnic tables, trash cans and recycle bins are available. Folks are asked not to take food or beverages into the scenic area – only reusable water bottles are permitted.
Panama Rocks is located at 11 Rock Hill Road, Panama, New York. Learn more about the park at their website, http://www.panamarocks.com/. The Audubon Nature Center is located at 1600 Riverside Road, Jamestown, New York, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, New York and Warren, Pennsylvania. Learn more about the Nature Center at http://jamestownaudubon.org.
Many thanks to Jonathan & Holly Weston for starting the conversation.
Jennifer Schlick is program director at the Nature Center.