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Ijams Nature


Ijams Nature Playscape at Grayson Subaru Preserve

The Ijams Nature Playscape at Grayson Subaru Preserve is a special place where wildlife, plantlife, and people can thrive, and the curiosity of a child is center stage!

Nature playscapes provide children and caregivers the opportunity to:

  • Express themselves through nature while developing increased social and emotional skills

  • Strengthen gross motor skills and overall health through physical exploration of the natural landscape

  • Develop a deeper curiosity of the natural world, sense of place, and self identity

  • Strengthen social skills and bonds between family members and between visitors

  • Develop spatial awareness, a complex cognitive skill learned and practiced at early developmental stages in life

  • Increase engagement, imagination, and cooperation more effectively than play and learning in wholly artificial environments

  • Reduce symptoms of anxiety, attention deficit disorder, and depression


Funded by Ijams' generous friends and partners at Grayson Subaru and Subaru of America, the Ijams Nature Playscape was created to enable visitors, especially children and their caregivers, to connect with nature and engage their senses as they explore, discover, and learn in curious and authentic ways. The Ijams Nature Playscape is a unique space that will be able to further Ijams mission of connecting people and nature in new and innovative ways.

This special space comprises five acres of woodland located within the 13.5-acre Grayson Subaru Preserve. The Nature Playscape doesn't include the usual array of swings, slides, and jungle gyms. Instead, children will find shallow creeks, boulders, trees, and other nature-inspired features.

The Ijams Nature Playscape is designed to recreate the experiences many of us had growing up, when we spent unstructured time in the woods, fields, and along creeks near our homes. Today's children often don't have the opportunity to play in this way due to safety concerns, barriers preventing access to natural areas such as transportation, or the lack of these spaces near their homes. 

The Ijams Nature Playscape is a comfortable setting where children can play while caregivers observe from a distance. While the Nature Playscape does include people-made elements, most of the Playscape is wooded hills and creek bottomland. Children can explore in a real, natural setting that encourages imaginative play. Children will know exactly what to do when they enter the Nature Playscape and Ijams encourages parents and caregivers to relax and allow them the freedom to explore, while still keeping them in sight. 

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Where is the Ijams Nature Playscape located?
It is located on Grayson Subaru Preserve, a natural area adjacent to Mead’s Quarry, and can be accessed through a trail starting at the Ijams Adventure Camp area just off the main quarry parking lot.  

Is there an entry fee?

Just like the rest of Ijams Nature Center, there is no cost to enter the Ijams Nature Playscape.

When can I visit?

The Nature Playscape is open daily from 8 am to sunset. 

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Is the Nature Playscape designed for any particular age?

The Nature Playscape has been designed especially for kids and their caregivers to help youth and families experience the physical, mental, and emotional benefits self-led nature experiences or nature play can offer. However, Ijams knows that adults will (and should) enjoy it too! 

Where's the best place to park?

The closest parking is at the Mead’s Quarry main or overflow parking lots. You can find Ijams Adventure Camp area on the left side of the main parking lot, where signs will direct you to the Nature Playscape via a short connector trail. Cross McClure Lane at the walkway and you will be at the entrance. 

Is there a restroom nearby?

Yes, the closest restrooms are located at the Mead's Quarry main parking lot. Additional restrooms are at Ijams Nature Center’s Visitor Center. At Mead's Quarry, Ijams also has picnic tables, and during the warm season, there is an outpost that that sells cold beverages and snacks, and River Sports Outfitters offers kayak, canoe, and stand-up paddle board rentals. 

Can I picnic in the Playscape?

Yes, you are welcome to bring picnic food with you. Ijams thanks you in advance for cleaning up and packing out all that you brought with you and/or putting trash/recycling in receptacles at Mead's Quarry. "Pack In, Pack Out" is an approach that will help keep the Playscape in great shape for all visitors.

Are dogs allowed?

Dogs are NOT allowed in the Ijams Nature Playscape. This is an area where many children will be moving across the landscape. To avoid possible negative interactions and dog waste in the area, dogs are not allowed within the Nature Playscape boundaries; however, dogs are allowed in all other areas of Ijams Nature Center. 

Are bikes allowed?

Bike racks are located by the Mead's Quarry restrooms so that visitors can secure their bikes before entering the Nature Playscape. The Playscape's path system is intended for those on foot. If a visitor primarily is looking for great biking trails, head back to the quarry parking lot and you will be able to find prime trails designed just for biking. 

Can I rent a particular part of the Playscape for a private event?

The Nature Playscape is a free and open space for all visitors to enjoy, so there are no private areas available for permitted events. Ijams also plans to conduct many programs for youth and their caregivers throughout the year.

If you have other questions or comments, please contact Ijams!

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