Off Highway 38 near the little town of Elkton is a plain-looking building with an intriguing sign that says Butterfly Pavilion. I had always wanted to stop but never had time. Recently, I was heading for California, planning to stretch the two-day drive into three, so I pulled off.
What a surprise. Officially named the Elkton Community Education Center, the 30-acre site includes 4.5 acres of butterfly-friendly gardens, places where one can observe butterflies in flight or enjoying the plants. In addition, artwork is scattered throughout, and visitors can tour a replica of historic Fort Umpqua or walk shady trails through gardens featuring native plants from all the different parts of Oregon. There’s a library to learn more, and in summer, the cafe is open, with a variety of food, espresso, cold drinks and ice cream sold by local students. It’s such a pretty place that folks hold weddings and other special events there, and artists set up their easels in the gardens to paint.
When I stopped by, the weather was a little chilly for the butterflies, but there was still plenty to enjoy, including the well-stocked gift shop. Although it was nearly 5:00 when I arrived, the friendly staff encouraged me to stay as long as I wanted to.
The center is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day, and admission is free. Upcoming events include a tree identification class on July 11, “Paint and Photo in the Park” on July 21, a solar cookout and community yard sale on Aug. 4, Ft. Umpqua Days over labor Day Weekend, and Oktoberfest on Sept. 29. For directions or more information, visit the website at http://www.elktonbutterflies.com.