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Budget Trip To River Bend: Eating Flowers, Petting Prairie Dogs & Hiking The Switchbacks

Not all adventures have to be elaborate or cost an arm and a leg.   In fact, some of the best times you will have are when you plan on a budget and find what is nearby that might be an undiscovered diamond in the rough.   As I took on looking in my backyard for a unique adventure, I found River Bend Nature Center in Wichita Falls, one of the more unique locations in North Texas. 

River Bend’s mission is to connect everyone with the natural beauty around them by showcasing a variety of native plants to the region as well as animals which can be found in the surrounding areas, the center is a hub of knowledge located in Wichita Falls.

With trails and activities for children, this destination has become a wonderful outlet for schools and youth programs throughout the region to visit and gain knowledge about the area.   Hiking trails highlight the rich texture of the outdoor landscape and provide a great escape from the city life of Wichita Falls in a peaceful solitude and shade.

Often, the center hosts special programs including wildlife viewings and camps targeting education of not only children but adults. 

In my visit, I found that $5 goes a long way, as I was pleased to have great interaction with staff, all of which were extremely informative.   Once entering the gardens area I was greeted by a lot of information posted throughout but also a guide who led me through and showed me the most exciting features of the site.

I met the prairie dogs, a personal favorite, shortly after a school group had left.   The trio of prairie dogs were stress eating from the amount of children present and were fat and full.    A roadrunner hid from the over excitement and came down after the scene had cleared to see me and get a feel for who I was in his space.    Turtles swam with fish and bobbed in and out of their tanks to say hello and sun on the surrounding rocks.   Butterflies perched on beautiful flowers before landing on my shoulders as though to say hello.

I even learned about vegetation that can be consumed but found in the native area.    Who would have ever thought I would eat a flower, but after hearing about the benefits, I decided why not try one!

It was a day filled with surprises and fun as I explored locally and really enjoyed every moment.   I would have to say this is now one of my favorite places to go when in Wichita Falls!


  • If traveling with children, look online in advance to see if there is a special program featured on the day of your visit.  These programs are not only informative but very interactive and will heighten your experience with your children for the day.

  • Bring water or pick one up in the gift shop!   If you are planning on hiking the short trail, make sure to hydrate during summer months.   Though mostly shaded, it is important to always remember to drink water when walking.

  • Do not attempt to pet the animals!   Though animals are very friendly remember not to attempt to pet them because they are still wild animals. 

  • Find a guide.   If you are visiting and it is not busy ask one of the staff to be your guide and tell you a bit more about the points of interest, they are extremely knowledgeable.  

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