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For email contact information: director@sgmrc.org

Nature Centers:

Volunteer Opportunities

15501 E. Arrow Highway
Azusa Canyon Road
Irwindale, CA 91706-2002
See Map

Nature Center Office:

Nature Center Hours:
10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Monday through Saturday.


Gabriels Projects: The Santa Fe Dam Nature Center

Put the mouse over any small picture to see a large image.

Santa Fe Dam Nature Center LogoThe stone building that houses the Santa Fe Dam Nature Center was built in 1972, but was left empty soon after. It remained empty and unused for some 12 years until 2002, when Los Angeles County representatives approached directors of the San Gabriel Mountains Regional Conservancy about creating a partnership to operate the beautiful and unique facility. The vision was to reopen the Nature Center and establish outdoor/ environmental education programs, particularly to serve local schools, youth organizations, outdoor enthusiasts and the general public. Within a six-month time span, transformation occurred. Special thanks to SGMRC Directors, Dr. Ramona Rubio and Julie Riley, ASLA, who along with the help and dedication of dozens of volunteers, plus in-kind donations and cash contributions from partnering groups, teamed up to bring the vision to life! Numerous projects and restorations are evident, as you will discover on one of the guided tours of the Nature Center and Natural Area.

There are storyboards and educational signage with beautiful photography that introduce the native plants and wildlife found in the area. There is a wonderful, newly landscaped native plant demonstration garden adjacent to the large patio area of the building. A major bike route runs right by the Nature Center, and also overnight camping areas are within an easy walk for youth groups to learn about and experience the natural area outdoors.

The Nature Center Project is another of SGMRC's Gateways to Knowledge for children and adults to learn more about how the valley used to be before pioneers and major developments became a way of life. Scheduled for your enjoyment are Nature Walks, Group Gatherings, School Field Trips, and Special Events. A Nature Walk after a garden picnic would make a birthday celebration memorable!

The Nature Center and its surrounding Natural Area are becoming a hub of activity for hikers, bikers, joggers, in-line skaters, birders, photographers, not to mention herps and plant enthusiasts. Despite all the activity, this is a place where life slows down to a more natural rhythm and bird songs soothe the soul. It is a place of solitude in a heavily traveled region. It is waiting for you to visit and enjoy the balm that is often missing in the work-a-day world. Even a lunch break stroll can refresh your day! You-ll see more sky here than any other place in the Valley!

If you haven't experienced the changes, every month brings a different seasonal calendar to the Nature Center. One visit is never enough! Also of note is the exceptional habitat quality of the Natural Area with its unique and rare plants and wildlife. You will want to learn more about the rarity of this last of its kind place in Los Angeles County: alluvial fan sage scrub plant community daring to exist on braided river habitats. All this and more at the Nature Center at Santa Fe Dam - a partnership of Los Angeles County Parks & Recreation and SGMRC.

Schedule a trail walk, nature activities, park clean-up, field trip, merit badges, classroom visit, community talk, or service club project by calling the Nature Center Office. A variety of topics, activities, workshops, and projects are available. Even a research talk may be scheduled with our resident UC Berkeley Doctoral Student; currently research focus is on the regional watershed habitat plan. Sign up early for school year planning!


15501 E. Arrow Highway
Azusa Canyon Road
Irwindale, CA 91706-2002
See Map

We invite you to Visit & Volunteer. There are many volunteer opportunities, plus docent training, here at the Nature Center. Programming needs are dependent on volunteers to serve as docents, trail guides, office personnel, program presenters, and program assistants. We look forward to hearing from you. Entry to the Santa Fe Dam Recreational Area is located at Arrow Highway at Azusa Canyon Road, Irwindale.

Nature Center Hours are: 10 a.m. - 1 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Watch for Park Special Events, Clean-ups, Community Projects, and Outdoor Activities. By arrangement, Field Trips and Guided Trail Walks are scheduled through the Nature Center. Drop by the Nature Center during the open hours for nature tips, brochures, and store items, including fine art prints, plus wildflower posters, guides and CDs and native plants for your garden or patio (seasonal availability).

Docent Training at the Center 
Classes will begin Thursday, September 16, 10am to noon.  Meeting every Thursday until November 11. Topics include native plants and animals, birds, Kizh culture, geology, watershed issues and much more.  Purpose of the training is to guide school groups on field trips.

Remember to Visit & Volunteer!

If you would like to ask us about how you can become a volunteer, or to be notified by e-mail of scheduled events at the Nature Center, please add yourself to our mailing list.



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