• gfdc

Housed within a complex of old mill buildings in historic Turners Falls, Massachusetts, the Great Falls Discovery Center’s exhibits show the natural, cultural, and industrial history of the Connecticut River watershed. The Center’s four acres of colorful gardens and open lawn with picnic tables nestle into a bend in the Connecticut River to provide a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere and the perfect place for fun and learning.

Inside the main building, exquisite walk-through dioramas show the plants, animals, and landscapes of this 410-mile-long river from its arboreal source near the Canadian border, through forests and farms, past villages, towns, and cities, all the way down to the estuary at the Long Island Sound. A timeline indicates the impacts of human habitation on each environment over time and suggests safeguards to keep the watershed healthy and useful for all—people, plants, and animals—that live here together.

The Center’s charming Great Hall building is a former machine shop, with a high ceiling, brick walls, large windows, and gleaming old wood floors. It is connected to the main building by a corridor whose windows on one side open onto an old canal (once used for transportation, now for power), faced on the other by a mural depicting what is found beneath the canal water rushing by. The Great Hall is used for regularly held art exhibits and special educational programs and activities for children and adults, as well as for the Friends of Great Falls Discovery Center’s monthly live-music Coffeehouses that warm up the room while raising funds that support the Center’s free public programs.

Located in town yet close to nature, the Center is one end of an easy self-guided walking tour of the interesting little town of Turners Falls, with its historical industrial architecture and distinctive geology, restaurants, shops, and old Carnegie Library. The walk and Canalside Rail Trail along the river and canal runs from Turners Falls to Deerfield and is a favorite site for bird watching. A short distance along the other side of the bridge leads to Barton Cove’s picnic area and camp grounds, where eagles soar over the peninsula.

The Center’s building and exhibits are fully accessible and are free and open to the public.  It is a Massachusetts State Park operated by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, with financial and program support from the Friends of Great Falls Discovery Center.

Visit Us on Facebook to stay informed on the programs and events at the Center and to download our monthly events calendar.

Hours & Free Admission


The Great Falls Discovery Center is operated by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.

Current seasonal hours: 

  • Open Wednesdays through Sundays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Closed Mondays and Tuesdays, but open Monday holidays.

Open most holidays including New Year’s Day, MLK Day, Presidents’ Day, Patriots Day, Easter, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples Day, Veterans’ Day, and the day after Thanksgiving.

Closed Thanksgiving Day.

Closed Christmas Day.

FREE ADMISSION – Admission to the Center is free.  Almost every program at the Center is free. For fee based programs, any fees or registration requirements are announced on our online events calendar.

EVENTS:  Please see our events calendar. Additionally, we have printable versions of our events calendars and flyers.

 

Upcoming Events

Nov
12
Fri
10:00 am Story Walk® Series: Thanks to th... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Story Walk® Series: Thanks to th... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Nov 12 2021 @ 10:00 am – Jan 4 2022 @ 6:00 pm
Ongoing, Daily. Enjoy a story, fresh air, and exercise! Join us on the grounds of the center for a FREE series of self-guided StoryWalks® featuring children’s picture books. Follow the path to book pages posted along the route. Wonderful stories await! November 12 through January 4 Thanks to the Animals, by Allen Sockabasin. For young readers ages 6-8 and anyone grateful for wildlife and storytelling. The StoryWalk® Project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT and developed in collaboration with the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. Story Walk® is a registered service mark owned by Ms. Ferguson. This StoryWalk® is provided by Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation Interpretive Services.    
Dec
2
Thu
10:00 am Great Hall Exhibit – Junior Duck... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Great Hall Exhibit – Junior Duck... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Dec 2 2021 @ 10:00 am – Jan 2 2022 @ 4:00 pm
Young students from Kindergarten to High School submit artwork for a statewide art contest. In the process, they gain awareness of the importance of preserving wetland habitats and the delights of wildlife. Come see the top Massachusetts youth entries for the 2021 Junior Duck Stamp competition!
10:00 am Quack! Quack! A Self- Guided Duc... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Quack! Quack! A Self- Guided Duc... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Dec 2 2021 @ 10:00 am – Jan 2 2022 @ 4:00 pm
See the 2021 Junior Duck Stamp exhibit and then enjoy scavenger hunts, quizzes, and crafts in the Great Hall at a self-guided investigation station all about ducks. A variety of activities for different ages will be available. Grab an activity to go or practice social distancing at one of the craft tables.
Dec
10
Fri
4:00 pm It’s a Wonderful Night in Turner... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
It’s a Wonderful Night in Turner... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Dec 10 @ 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Let’s help our winter birds. Meet at the Welcome Desk anytime from 4-8 p.m. to get your supplies to make a pinecone bird feeder for our avian neighbors as part of It’s a Wonderful Night in Turners Falls —a town-wide RiverCulture event. Your bird feeder craft bag will include instructions and information on which birds might show up at your feeder and what they might like to eat. For all ages.
Dec
17
Fri
10:30 am Kidleidoscope Story Hour – Deer @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Kidleidoscope Story Hour – Deer @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Dec 17 @ 10:30 am – 11:30 am
  For ages 3-6, accompanied by an adult. Come learn about our wildlife neighbors who share our home in the Connecticut River Watershed. Program includes a story, activities, and a craft. Whenever possible, activities will be outdoors, meeting in the Great Hall courtyard. In case of bad weather, activities will be in the Great Hall, with social distancing. No shared materials/items. Siblings and friends welcome.
Jan
1
Sat
1:00 pm First Day Hike @ Great Falls Discovery Center
First Day Hike @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Jan 1 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Saturday, January 1, 1:00-3:00 p.m. Enjoy a leisurely three-mile stroll down the Canalside Rail Trail and get the New Year started off on a Great Falls note. This family friendly hike follows a gentle route and provides an opportunity to discover the abundant natural, historical, and cultural features that make the Center and rail trail such an amazing State Park! Be prepared for cold weather: dress in layers and wear winter boots. Dogs are welcome on leash. Meet at 1 p.m. outside the main entrance of the Great Falls Discovery Center. Hike begins at 1:15 p.m.

Directions & Parking

GPS Users
2 Avenue A, Turners Falls, MA 01376.  Please note that the address may show up as  Montague in some units.

From the North and South
Take Interstate 91, take exit 46 onto Route 2 East/Mohawk Trail towards Boston.
Turn right onto Main St. (over the Gill-Montague Bridge).
Continue onto Avenue A.
The Great Falls Discovery Center is the first red building on your right immediately after the bridge.

From the West
Take Route 2 East past route 91 to the traffic lights in Gill.
Turn right onto Main St. (over the Gill-Montague Bridge).
Continue onto Avenue A.
The Great Falls Discovery Center is the first red building on your right immediately after the bridge.

From the East
Take Route 2 West to Gill.
At the Route 2 lights in Gill, turn left onto Main St. (over the Gill-Montague Bridge).
Continue onto Avenue A.
The Great Falls Discovery Center is the first red building on your right immediately after the bridge.

Parking
Handicap accessible parking is available immediately after the Gill-Montague bridge on the right.
The main parking lot is just around the corner.  Take the next right onto Second St, then a right to enter the lot.

Contact

Great Falls Discovery Center

The Great Falls Discovery Center is operated by the Department of Conservation and Recreation. For questions about the center, please call 413-863-3221.

For school field trips contact: 

janel.nockleby@mass.gov

For Park Interpreter Contact:
413-863-3221

For information about art displays in the Great Hall:

janel.nockleby@mass.gov

Membership and Support
See the Friends Page

or call us at 413.863.3221

Sponsored by:
Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge
     •     Connecticut River Greenway State Park     •     Friends of the Great Falls Discovery Center

© 2012 Great Falls Discovery Center     •     All Rights Reserved     •     Site design by Starstruck Design