• 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 5 days a week, Wednesdays through Sundays –  10 am to 4 pm. 

Special December 2019 Vacation Week Hours: Open every day 12/26 through 1/5. 

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

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: See our events calendar. Additionally, here are printable versions of our events calendars and flyers: November 29 Go Green on Black Friday!, December 2019 Calendar of EventsNovember 2019 Calendar of Events. 

Upcoming Events

Nov
8
Fri
3:00 pm Art Exhibit: Junior Duck Stamps—... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Art Exhibit: Junior Duck Stamps—... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Nov 8 2019 @ 3:00 pm – Jan 3 2020 @ 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 2019 Junior Duck Stamp competition!
Dec
6
Fri
10:30 am Kidleidoscope Story Hour – Beavers @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Kidleidoscope Story Hour – Beavers @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Dec 6 @ 10:30 am – 11:30 am
Come learn about our wildlife neighbors who share our home in the Connecticut River Watershed. Program includes a story, activities, and a craft to introduce young children to wildlife along the river. For ages 3-6, accompanied by an adult. Siblings and friends welcome.
Dec
13
Fri
2:00 pm It’s a Wonderful Night in Turner... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
It’s a Wonderful Night in Turner... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Dec 13 @ 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
  Meet in the Great Hall to craft bird feeders for our winter friends as part of It’s a Wonderful Night in Turners Falls —a town-wide RiverCulture event. Which birds will show up at your feeder? What do they eat? Bird feeder making continues the next day, Saturday, 11 am to 2 pm. For all ages.
5:30 pm Awesome Art in Motion Dance Perf... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Awesome Art in Motion Dance Perf... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Dec 13 @ 5:30 pm – 6:00 pm
  It’s a Wonderful Night in Turners Falls for dance too! Join Awesome Art in Motion, a Turners Falls based creative dance company for elementary children, for an informal showing of their newest dance piece, an exploration of what it means to be at once a unique individual and a member of a group. Free.
Dec
14
Sat
11:00 am It’s a Wonderful Afternoon in Tu... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
It’s a Wonderful Afternoon in Tu... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Dec 14 @ 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
  Meet in the Great Hall to craft bird feeders for our winter friends as part of It’s a Wonderful Night in Turners Falls —a town-wide RiverCulture event. Which birds will show up at your feeder? What do they eat? For all ages.
Dec
20
Fri
10:30 am Kidleidoscope Story Hour – Winte... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Kidleidoscope Story Hour – Winte... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Dec 20 @ 10:30 am – 11:30 am
Come learn about our wildlife neighbors who share our home in the Connecticut River Watershed. Program includes a story, activities, and a craft to introduce young children to wildlife along the river. For ages 3-6, accompanied by an adult. Siblings and friends welcome.
Dec
26
Thu
10:00 am Special December Vacation Week H... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Special December Vacation Week H... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Dec 26 2019 @ 10:00 am – Jan 5 2020 @ 4:00 pm
  Take a break from the holidays and stop by the Center’s investigation stations, explore our habitat dioramas, try a scavenger hunt for animals in our Connecticut River Watershed, or draw your own Junior Duck Stamp. Closed on Christmas Day. Open 12/26 through 1/5. Open on New Year’s Day.
Dec
27
Fri
10:30 am Kidleidoscope Story Hour – River... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Kidleidoscope Story Hour – River... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Dec 27 @ 10:30 am – 11:30 am
Come learn about our wildlife neighbors who share our home in the Connecticut River Watershed. Program includes a story, activities, and a craft to introduce young children to wildlife along the river. For ages 3-6, accompanied by an adult. Siblings and friends welcome.
Dec
28
Sat
1:00 pm Rocking with the Fossils: A Fami... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Rocking with the Fossils: A Fami... @ Great Falls Discovery Center
Dec 28 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
  Examine a simulated version of Dinosaur Footprints Reservation and make inferences about the track makers. Photos and investigations demonstrate what it takes to become a fossil and where they are most likely found. Make your own “fossil” to take home. For children age 6-12 with their grown-ups, siblings, and curious adults. Meet inside the Great Hall.
Jan
1
Wed
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
  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. Afterward, enjoy a cup of hot chocolate in the Discovery Center’s Great Hall. Meet at 1 p.m. in Great Hall. 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 27 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:

Note that our art gallery bookings are full through much of 2020. When we are able to accept new bookings, we will note that here. Thank you.

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