Clearwater Nature Center

Clearwater Nature Center

11401 Thrift Rd
Clinton, MD 20735

11401 Thrift Rd
Clinton, MD 20735
Tel: (301) 297-4575
· Mon : Closed
· Tues - Sat : 10AM - 5PM
· Sun : 10AM - 4PM


  • Parking Lot

  • Picnic Tables

  • Playground Equipment

  • Restrooms & Comfort Stations

  • Trail Access


  • Event Buildings & Areas


Come enjoy the Clearwater Nature Center, nestled in the majestic 800-acre mature growth forest ofLouise F. Cosca Regional Park in Clinton, MD. The Center currently maintains a variety of birds, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, and fishes that support educational messaging and learning opportunities for students, groups, and the general public.


At Clearwater Nature Center, you’ll find:

  • Live animal exhibits
  • Fossil Cave
  • Hiking/Biking/Horse riding trails
  • Birding Opportunities
  • Outdoor Birds of Prey Viewing Habitat
  • Nature Playground
  • Clearwater Nature Center Trail (Coming Soon)
  • Indoor Turtle Pond (Coming Soon)
  • Campfire Circle (Must Register to Reserve)
  • Live animal programs (Must Register to Reserve)

There is no fee for walk-in visitors and self-guided tours except during special events. Large walk-in groups are encouraged to call first as we may have other large groups visiting.


  • Language Accommodations: Spanish speaker available Mon-Friday
  • Sensory Backpacks Available Upon Request
  • NEW ADA Parking Located behind the nature center

Call the park office at (301) 297-4575 if you have specific questions.

Stay in Touch

Email us at with any questions.

<strong>Public Programs</strong>

Clearwater Nature Center staff and volunteers provide a wide variety of seasonal and year-round interpretive nature programs to the public both at our facility and at off-site locations.

Groups of 10 or more people may arrange for private naturalist-conducted, nature-themed programs. For groups with fewer than 10 people, please check out Clearwater’s Programs & Events schedule. Nominal fees and/or group rates apply for programs.

How To Register

Program Registration

To guarantee your spot within a program, advance registration is required for all programs with a PARKS DIRECT number. Drop-in admission (no registration) for programs are accepted only as space permits. Space availability is never guaranteed for drop-ins. Programs may be canceled 24-48 hours prior to the start of the program due to insufficient registrations via Parks Direct.

If you already have a PARKS DIRECT account, please register for programs via Parks Direct. Most of our programs allow for “spots booked” where only one person in the family needs to have an account to register for the total number of desired spots. However, for programs that do not allow for spots booked, each person desiring to attend the program must have their own Parks Direct account and be registered individually.

Don’t have an account yet? Check out the Parks Direct page for information on how to set up an account for yourself and your family.

For programs that do not have a Parks Direct course number, please call for information.

Program Requirements

Check the age requirements for each program before registering. All participants must meet the age requirement to attend a program. For some programs, children must be accompanied by a registered adult, who must participate in the program with the child. Unless a program says otherwise you may not drop your child off and leave.

Fees for programs are based on your residency.

Program Fees

Make sure that your email and other contact information is up-to-date on your Parks Direct account prior to registration. Staff may need to contact you if they have questions or in the event that a program must be canceled due to inclement weather or other reasons.

  • Residents (R): individuals who live within Prince George’s or Montgomery Counties
  • Non-Residents (NR): individuals who live in all other jurisdictions.

Year-Round Programs

Animal Encounters

Come meet some of the nature center’s resident animals including reptiles, amphibians, and birds of prey. Please note: We do not take our live animals out on programs during the colder winter months (Late October-Late April). Please see our “Amazing Animal Artifacts” Program instead during those months.

Amazing Animal Artifacts

Explore and get hands on with the many artifacts we have to share. Learn about the natural history of our native and non/native animals! We’ll talk about where they live, what they eat, how they survive and more.

Scout Badge Projects

The Nature Facility Program Manager or Park Naturalist can assist your scout/youth group in completing some of the requirements needed for nature related merit badges. Please call at least 2 weeks in advance to schedule a meeting to coordinate and plan the project and/or event.

Community & Club Opportunities

Lapidary Club (jewelry making/rock cutting)

To become a member of a club, give us a call at 301-297-4575 or email: If you do not already have one, you will also need to set up a Parks Direct account.

<strong>School Programs</strong>

Clearwater Nature center offers curriculum-related programs for school groups as well as Community Outreach programs held at your location.

How to Schedule

For program reservations and inquiries: Email or, or call (301)297-4575.

Some programs held at Clearwater Nature Center may include an outdoor component. Please dress accordingly. Our auditorium can accommodate 40 people; larger groups can be divided. Our auditorium can accommodate 40 people; larger groups will be divided and then go through rotations. Please be aware that this will lengthen your time at Clearwater. Programs typically run between 45min-1.5 hours long.

Clearwater Nature Center Program Application Request

Clearwater Nature Center Program Application Request

(if not applicable, type N/A)
Organization or Program Coordinator Street Address:*(Required)
Have you coordinated a program with the park before?

Preferred Date & Start Time (Option 1)*(Required)
Preferred Date & Start Time (Option 2)*(Required)
Preferred Date & Start Time (Option 3)*(Required)
Programs at Clearwater Nature Center: Minimum 10 people Programs Presented at your Facility: Minimum 25 people
Call Clearwater Nature Center at (301) 297-4575 during operating hours for more information. Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 10am-4pm.

Program Descriptions

*Most programs can be modified for all grade levels.

Animal Encounters: Recommended for Pre-K & Up

Students learn unique, interesting, and fun facts about members from our live animal collection. The Animal Encounters Program can be adapted to focus on a specific animal population and/or topic (e.g. reptiles, insects, mammals, habitats, animal behavior, etc).

Discovery Hike: Recommended for Pre-K & Up

Let’s go outside! We will take your group on a hike in the majestic Cosca forest. This program is also flexible and can be customized to your interests and needs (e.g., sensory hike, fauna/flora identification hike, etc.)

  • COMING SOON: Mindfulness Hike

Flora of the Forest & More!: Recommended for K & Up

Students will learn the unique characteristics of plants and how they are beneficial to us. Topics may include plant structure, photosynthesis, pollution, erosion control, natural cycles (water, carbon, etc), and how to “read” a tree. This program may also include dynamic movement in order to help participants understand the concepts being covered. Depending on the weather and educational goals, a hike can be included.

Geology: Recommended for Grades 3 & Up

This program explores all sorts of wonderful facets (pun intended!) about rocks and minerals. Topics may include the rock cycle, properties of rocks, Moh’s Hardness Scale, types of rocks, land formations, etc.

Habitats: Recommended for Grades K & Up

Students will learn about the 3 main types and components that make up a habitat as well as the 4 main biomes. We will discuss endangered habitats, how they have been affected by human activity and what we can do to help.

Owls & Pellets: Recommended for Grades 1 & Up

Learn about the characteristics of owls, identify bones and study how owls hunt, eat, and digest their food. Learn about owls, how pellets are formed, why they are important and more. Dissect an owl pellet and investigate what they ate. Get an inside look at food chains/webs and differences between owls and other birds of prey.

Scales & Slime: Recommended for Pre-K & Up

Meet some of our reptiles and an amphibian! Students will:

  • observe the life cycle characteristics of an amphibian,
  • describe the differences between a reptile and an amphibian, and
  • investigate and explore the behavioral patterns of reptiles and amphibians


Programs presented on-site at Clearwater Nature Center(Minimum 10 people)

  • Prince George’s and Montgomery County schools: $4/person
  • For schools in all other counties: $6/person
  • *Optional: simple arts & crafts can be requested for an additional $1/person

Programs presented at your school or facility (Minimum 25 people)

  • Prince George’s and Montgomery County schools, day care facilities, etc.: $6/person
  • For schools, day care facilities, etc. in all other counties: $8/person
  • *No arts & crafts addition available


We offer birthday party packages and rentals of our auditorium. See the information below.

*Campfire circle rental coming soon

Event Space Rentals

Clearwater Nature Center offers rental of our auditorium with tables and chairs available for meetings and small group parties or functions.

  • We also have a large pull-down media screen for multi-media presentations (you must supply your own projector and laptop).
  • Weather permitting, use of the outdoor side-deck is also permitted.
  • Room capacity is 50-person capacity (chair seating only) and 40-person capacity (with chairs and tables set up).
  • Please call the nature center for information on rental policies, room availability, and payment.
  • Reservations ideally should be made at least one (1) month in advance when possible (sometimes we are booked up).
  • If you do not already have one, you will also need to set up a PARKS DIRECT account when you come in to pay for the room reservation.


  • Residents: $70/hr
  • Non-residents: $91/hr
  • *Residents are those who reside in Prince George’s County or Montgomery County. Proof of residency is required.

Birthday Party Package

Available Time Slots:

Choose from the following available time slots:

  • 11AM – 2PM
  • 12AM – 3PM
  • 1PM – 4PM
  • **No extra time can be added on after 4PM


  • Birthday Package Rental for 3 hours:
    • Residents: $200
    • Non-residents: $260
    • *Residents are those who reside in Prince George’s County or Montgomery County. Proof of residency is required.
  • Birthday Package WITH 30-min Animal Encounter Program:
    • Residents: $240
    • Non-residents: $312