One of the most beautiful spaces in the Indy Parks family is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and Indy Parks is asking residents to help to make it spectacular. With 1,400 acres of water and 3,900 acres of forest, Eagle Creek Park is one of the largest city parks in the nation, offering unmatched opportunities for recreation and fitness, educational programs at two nature centers (Earth Discovery Center and the Ornithology Center), and engaging experiences such as concerts, day camps, and more for youth and adults.
Part of the park’s history is rooted in an appreciation for bald eagles. Today, the park staff regularly showcase ways to preserve and admire the environment while caring for animals.
Bald eagles were once extirpated from the Indiana, which means they were locally extinct, largely due to dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) poisoning their water and food sources. Currently, bald eagles are flourishing around the Eagle Creek Reservoir! There are multiple nesting pairs as well as many juveniles that grace our skies. Read more about the history of eagles in Indiana at in.gov/dnr/fish-and-wildlife.
Visitors will find that the Eagle Creek Park nature centers are home to several animals that are cared for by loving staff and trained to be ambassadors for their species. This means that they help Indy Parks staff educate the public and advocate for Indiana wildlife and habitat conservation. Many are non-releasable, meaning that they have some kind of disability that keeps them from being able to survive on their own in the wild. (Operating under DNR education and USFWS eagle exhibition permits.)
Currently, the Earth Discovery Center has frogs, turtles, snakes, fish, and more that you can see during open hours. The Ornithology Center currently has eight birds of prey, but most are not on public display. However, visitors can come to one of their free, weekly programs to meet one of these raptor ambassadors up close: Falcon Fridays at 2 p.m., Raptor Feeding Time Saturdays at 2:30 p.m., and Meet a Raptor Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
Indy Parks staff invite all to join them all year long as they celebrate 50 years of Eagle Creek Park! The park was officially dedicated on June 10, 1972, and park staff have planned a full year of activities, challenges, a park history, and events to bring park visitors together in honor of the milestone. Eagle Creek Park 50th anniversary events include:
- June 10: 50th Anniversary Celebration – $1 park admission, free concert at the beach.
- July 23: Iron Eagle Paddle & Run, Eagle Creek Park Foundation fundraiser, sign up at eaglecreekpark.org/iron-eagle-paddle-run.
- Aug. 6: Eagle Creek School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, adult summer camp event, ages 21+, learn more and register at indyparks.org.
- June-August: Early Childhood programs at the Earth Discovery Center, search for “Story Time on the Reservoir” and “Books and Boots” at indyparks.org.
- Oct. 8-23: Images of Nature Photography Contest and Exhibit at the Earth Discovery Center.
- Oct. 22-23: October Owl Festival at the Ornithology Center.
- Dec. 3-18: Celebration of Nature Art Exhibit at the Earth Discovery Center.
- Dec. 18: Lilly Lake Lantern Walk.
50th Anniversary Challenges: How do you enjoy Eagle Creek Park? Try one of the seven 2022 challenges. Complete any or all of the following challenges and come to the Park Office, Earth Discovery Center, or Ornithology Center with proof to earn a free commemorative sticker (one for each challenge!). A 50th Anniversary Challenge Journal is available for purchase to track and remember the 2022 Eagle Creek Park adventures, as well as a place to keep commemorative stickers. The journal also has a list of 50 park activity ideas, an anniversary crossword puzzle and word search, writing prompts, and fun facts throughout.
- 50 Visits: visit Eagle Creek Park at least 50 times.
- 50 Miles: hike, run, bike, paddle, or ride at least 50 miles in the park.
- 50 Species: identify 50 different species of birds, plants, insects, or any wildlife.
- 50 Photos: take 50 photos in the park.
- 50 _____: Create Your Own challenge.
- 50 Dollars: donate or raise $50 for the Eagle Creek Park Foundation.
- 50 Hours: volunteer 50 hours at the park in 2022 and receive a special button or patch.
As Indy Parks showcases Eagle Creek Park’s 50th anniversary, the staff is encouraging park visitors to use the hashtag #ECP50th on social media to show how they are celebrating and following along with the park on Facebook and Instagram (@eaglecreekpark_indy). And, visit eagle-creek-park-50th.creator-spring.com to grab 50th anniversary merchandise — hoodies, t-shirts, tank tops, and even a fanny pack.
PHOTO ABOVE: Paddle boat rental on Lilly Lake in the 1970s.