Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Muth Interpretive Center at Upper Newport Bay

Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center Parking lot at Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve

Getting to and finding the Muth Interpretive Center is a challenge. Many people don't even know that the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve has an interpretive center. In the first place, it is not on the side that people who are not familiar with the Upper Newport Bay usually enter the reserve. The Muth Interpretive Center is located at the what you might call the "back end" of the reserve. Plus, the Muth Interpretive Center is constructed to blend in and not obscure the view. You cannot see it from the street as you drive by or even when you pull into the parking lot. So, how do you get there? The first bit of important information is the address. It is at 2301 University Drive, Newport Beach, CA 92660 near the intersection of University Drive and Irvine Avenue. Take a look at the map below.

View Larger Map

Traveling south on the 55 Freeway, exit on Fair and Del Mar (same exit as Vanguard University). You will drive a short distance to get to Del Mar after you exit the freeway. Turn left on Del Mar and drive for almost a mile. Cross Irvine Avenue. Newport Ecological Preserve is on your right. Look for the parking lot. See their website location and hours page for directions from other locations and their hours.

The trail down to the Muth Interpretive Center. The Center cannot be seen from the street or the parking lot.

Besides birds you may see coyotes, skunks, snakes, and bobcats in the area. These animals are wild and unpredictable. Give them wide berth. Early mornings and twilight are the times you may see coyotes, skunks, and bobcats. Snakes might be at any time. Children must be carefully supervised at all times for their own safety.

The path down to the Muth Interpretive Center.

Walk down the path and curve toward the left. You will see the center after you walk down a ways. You will see native plants, a small, outdoor teaching area, and a butterfly garden as you head down the path toward the interpretive center.

The Muth Interpretive Center

The Muth Interpretive Center was built to blend in to the landscape, and it does blend in so well that you might miss it. It was also built to be ecologically friendly. To list just a few of the recycled items used in the building: confiscated firearms, oil filters, steel-belted tire cords, steel drums and containers, recycled ground up glass, and post-consumer plastic containers. Can you guess what they made out of these recycled items? Check the Muth Center Building page. In addition to recycled items, the building was also constructed from saved up leftovers from construction projects. Pretty environmentally friendly.

Part of the beautiful decor includes murals on multimedia "columns" inside the Muth Center.

Inside, the center is beautiful with murals on the pillars, museum-quality historical and natural history displays, multimedia and interactive displays. The beautiful pillars actually house video stations where you can watch education displays. The ultimate video display is inside its theatre.

Theatre with historical displays in the back of the rooms.

In the theatre you can look at the historical displays at the back of the room and read about the history of the Newport Back Bay. You can learn about the area's natural history and about the watershed. There is so much information to learn just at the back of the theatre, you might almost forget the main attraction: the video presentations. It is set up very nicely. You can watch multimedia presentations that show on several TV screens all at once--different videos, but one narration. It all works together as one presentation and is really quite beautiful and informative.

A display that describes and illustrates how the Newport Back Bay was formed.

This is a large interpretive center--almost a natural history museum. It also boasts a small area where you can buy things including a small booklet about the tides.

Interactive Migration Display

The center has a great interactive migration display. You push a button and the bird and the migration route lights up.

Native American historical exhibit.

Native Americans are a vital part of the history of the Newport Back Bay, and several displays discuss their history in the Back Bay.

The Muth Interpretive Center Activity Room for children.

There is a large room for children's activities. Activities include many interesting things to do from arts and crafts to reading. The staff is very active in assisting the children. Children are one of the main focuses of the center as a whole. However, be sure that you stay with your children to share the experience with them and to supervise them since the center does not provide babysitting services.

Display includes stuffed a Coyote and Raccoon, skeletons and furs.

In addition to arts and the crafts, reading, and displays, the children's educational area also has several microscopes.

Microscopes for the children to get close to the Back Bay.

Children love the Muth Interpretive Center and the educational areas as do parents. It is a great place to take you children or for a field trip for schools, scout troops, or any group who wants to learn more about the Upper Newport Bay. In fact, the Muth Interpretive Center is a wonderful place for all ages.

One of the great animal displays includes a Great Egret.

If you love nature, are a birder, or just live in the area, don't miss this beautiful and educational place. Muth Interpretive Center is a must-see place to visit in Orange County. The trails around the center go all the way around Newport Back Bay if you follow them all the way. There are several really great walks and plenty of birds like Common Yellowthroats, Anna's Hummingbirds, Red-tailed Hawks, Pied-billed Grebes, Turkey Vultures, Northern Harriers to name just a few. When you are out birding in the Upper Newport Bay, don't forget to stop by and experience the wonderful Muth Interpretive Center. It's a great place to learn about the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve.


I want to extend a special thanks to Muth Interpretive Volunteer Linda Barker who showed me around the place. She was very helpful and informative. I appreciated her enthusiasm and thorough knowledge of the Back Bay and the Interpretive Center as well as the time she took to show me around the center.

OC Birder Girl Links

Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve aka Newport Back Bay


Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center

Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve and Ecological Reserve

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