The Jewel of Oakland

Established in 1870, Lake Merritt is the oldest wildlife refuge in the nation. The Rotary Nature Center & Lake Merritt Wildlife Refuge is a place for the public to appreciate nature in the heart of Oakland.

City of Oakland Parks & Recreation logo

2017 Summer Camp Registration is Open!

Our outdoor camps at Joaquin Miller Park and Lake Merritt get kids exploring all the amazing nature in Oakland. Campers can learn about everything from fire building and arrow making, to marine animals and bird life! Camps available for ages 5-15 yrs old.

Our summer camps will continue as planned despite the temporary closure of the Rotary Nature Center.

Photo by Mike Baird, some rights reserved (CC BY 2.0)

Photo by Mike Baird, some rights reserved (CC BY 2.0)

View Nesting Cormorants at Lake Merritt

The double-crested cormorants at Lake Merritt are nesting on the bird island again, and some chicks have already hatched! 

This year, the cormorants have expanded their colony to one of the cottonwood trees behind the Rotary Nature Center, giving us an even closer look.

Come by to check out these amazing birds! Just be careful of guano when walking under the tree, and remember to be considerate of wildlife.

Photo of a taxidermy specimen of a cougar in a display case inside an interpretive museum

Visit the Rotary Nature Center

The interpretive museum at the Rotary Nature Center is free and open to the public 7 days a week, from 10 am to 4 pm. Come check out our exhibits and learn about the natural history and ecology of Lake Merritt.

Photo of a box turtle being held in a woman's hands

Schedule a Program

We offer fun and educational programs taught by our naturalist staff at the Rotary Nature Center or offsite at your location. Our programs can be tailored for classrooms, community groups, adults, seniors, and more. 

Photo of a group of a dozen adults and a child looking through binoculars during a bird walk

Come on a Guided Walk

Naturalists at the Rotary Nature Center free lead interpretive walks around Lake Merritt covering a variety of topics. Join us to learn about the migrating birds, marine invertebrates, local trees, and more.