Cox Arboretum | Five Rivers MetroParks (2022)

Buildings, gardens and paved paths comply with ADA standards. The facility is handicap accessible with the exception of natural trails and the tree tower.

Drinking water is available in the Zorniger Visitor Center during published hours.Outside drinking fountains, available seasonally, are located near the Butterfly House and in the plaza of the Barbara Cox Center for Sustainable Horticulture. A drinking water fountain equipped with a bottle filler is available on the plaza outside the Resource Center.

Note: These exhibits are currently closed.

Two interactive exhibits are available to visitorsin the Adventure Bud (formerly the gift shop) within the Visitor Center at the Zorniger Education Campus:

  • Enjoy a family game called “Birds and Beets” designed to give players a fun way to discover more about gardening for wildlife or vegetables production.
  • A Discover board game lets visitors plan a day’s adventure by adding magnets to a map of the Arboretum. Each magnet has a picture of something to do, to find or to watch while visiting the Arboretum. There isa set of magnets for each season.

Look for“spotted” signs in the wildflower garden, ELG, conifers and pollinators garden to learn about plants, bee or butterflies that are in bloom or in flight. These signs change from March to November.

A series of signs throughout the park called “Arbor Day is Every Day”highlights trees and the proper way to care for them. These educational signs are placed along the paved path in garden areasandcan be seen from mid-April through October.

RTA Bus Route 19

Take Route 19 west on Third Street through downtown. This route will take you directly past Cox Arboretum.

Special indoor and outdoor venues are available for corporate events, retreats, holiday parties, receptions, weddings and other occasions.

(Video) Cox Arboretum MetroPark: Edible Landscape Garden

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Public restrooms are available in the Zorniger Education Center during published hours.After-hours restrooms are located in the Kettering Learning Lab.

The Zorniger Education Campus is a series of buildings setting the stage for a wide variety of educational activities. Programs, events and workshops about horticulture and natural history are held year-round on the campus. View the programs and events finderfor upcoming programs.

Stop by the Zorniger Education Center on your way into the park for maps, directions and restrooms. The Center isan interactive educational hub wherevisitors canlearn more about the Arboretum (and all of Five Rivers MetroParks) prior to entering the park/garden areas.

Public wireless access is available in the Zorniger Education Center, Volunteer Center and Kettering Learning Lab.

Cox Arboretum contains significant natural areas, including two high-quality mature woodlots, dense cedar glades, succession areas (containing an abundance of dogwood and redbud trees), planted tallgrass prairie and created wetlands.

Conservation staff members work to protect the mature woodlands, including byremoving invasive species that threaten the ecosystem. In other areas of the park, old fields are managed for natural succession to generate diverse future forests. Trilliums and ramps can be seen in the understory of the forest in the area where honeysuckle has been removed. Head to the nature trails behind the Butterfly House to see conservation in action.

The Woodland Wildflower Garden is the work of one of the most longstanding volunteer groups in the park district. For 50 years dedicated volunteers have rescued native wildflowers from threatened sites, propagated them and planted them in this young, successional woodland. During the spring, the wildflowers are at their peak. At the west end of the garden is a connection to the red trail and Conservation Corner.

Meadows, prairies, thickets, ponds and wetlands are also carefully managed in the park to reestablish native species and maintain healthy wildlife populations.

Visitors to the park in spring may see black smoke rising from the prairie. Controlled prairie burning is an important tool for managing prairie and early successional habitat. It releases nutrients and stimulates the growth of certain plant species.

All forms of native wildlife play a role in maintaining native habitats’ ecological balance. Spiders, for example, help control the insect population. Without spiders, we may find ourselves overwhelmed with disease-carrying insects! Check out the native funnel web spiders at Cox Arboretum MetroPark. You can find them in the boxwoods near the entrance of the Shrub Garden.

The bird blind within Conservation Corner provides an opportunity for bird and wildlife viewing that includes two wetlands and 13 acres of prairie. Redwing blackbirds and common yellowthroat warblers are often seen at the bird blind.

View recent bird survey.

(Video) Tour of Cox Arboretum composting area

Want to see a garden that’s beautiful — and tasty? Check out the Edible Landscape Garden at Cox Arboretum MetroPark. This display combines fruits, vegetables and herbs in an attractive arrangement that’s as visually appealing as it is nutritious. Park in the lot and walk the paved path past the water garden and ponds. The Edible Landscape Garden is located behind the Memorial Arbor.


Enjoy the serenity of a water garden landscaped with a mix of water-loving plants, perennial and shrub borders and seasonal displays.


This mixed border features perennials chosen for year-round interest, including reliable garden favorites and promising new introductions.


Alpine plants, low-growing vegetation and dwarf conifers all thrive in this sloping garden of rocks and gravel. Peak blooming period is April and May.


(Video) Cox Arboretum MetroPark: Butterfly House

The Arbor blends elegance with function.Architectural elements inspired by the tree tower and Zorniger building complex combine to create the perfect setting to enjoy the tranquility of the lower pond or the formal lines of the Allée.


The Allée features 100 Kousa dogwood trees (Cornus kousa). These trees provide four seasons of interest – spring blooms, showy red fall foliage, ornamental bark and a bird-attracting fruit display late in the season. Kousa dogwoods also have a longer “service life” of 50+ years.


Want birds, bees and butterflies to dance in your garden? Visit the pollinator gardens outside of Cox Arboretum’s Butterfly House and garden to learn about pollinator-friendly plants and get ideas to make your backyard more pollinator friendly. Supporting these winged creatures not only adds beauty, it will make your garden and the environment healthier.


This garden allows home gardeners to evaluate the growth and flowering habit, fall color and winter character of hundreds of different trees and shrubs.


Edible plants are featured here as ornamental components of the landscape. This garden combines beauty and utility through a unique display of fruits, vegetables and herbs. The pavilion serves as an outdoor classroom.


This young, successional woodland features a collection of native woodland wildflowers and nonnative species that can work well with natives in a residential shade garden. During the spring, the wildflowers are at their peak. At the west end of the garden is a connection to the Red Trail and Conservation Corner.

Geocaching is an activity combining technology and nature, using global positioning system (GPS) devices to search for and find “caches” hidden throughout the world. Visit and search by location to get started. Then head out on an adventure to find the geocaches hidden in this park.

(Video) Fiver river metro Park|Cox Arboretum

James M. Cox, Jr. purchaseda farm on the south edge of Dayton in January 1952, and three years later bought the 68 acres adjacent to it. In 1962, the land was established as the James M. Cox, Jr. Arboretum. Five Rivers MetroParks took on management of the facility in 1972.

View park history

The Arboretum grounds are easy to walk. Natural areas and Conservation Corner offer 2.5 miles of trails through woodlands and meadows. An overlook in the Ruth Cummings Mead Woodland provides a scenic view of native woodlands and a beautiful ravine. Birds and other wildlife can be watched from an observation area in Conservation Corner.

Cox Arboretum MetroPark contains significant natural areas including two high-quality mature woodlots, dense cedar glades, especially beautiful succession areas (containing an abundance of dogwood and redbud trees), planted tall-grass prairie and created wetlands.

Before European settlement, huge glaciers composed much of the landscape in our region. Find evidence at Cox Arboretum of these slow-moving giants responsible for carving the Great Lakes.

There’s always something in bloom somewhere in the gardens. As some plants and flowers wane, others come into bloom and color. The diverse habitats in the park provide ideal spaces to capture the beauty of plants and native wildlife through the camera’s eye. You might even get some garden ideas for your own yard!

Commercial photographers are required to have a permit to take pictures in the park.

Explore a working demonstration exhibit in the Compost Kitchen area of the park, near the Edible Landscape Garden. Learn about composting, observe the process and evaluate how to incorporate this aspect of land stewardship into your home.

Cox Arboretum MetroPark offers hundreds of volunteers the chance to use their time and talents in a wide variety of activities.

Get involved as a gardener, instructor or tour guide leading school or adult groups.

New volunteers are always welcome! For more information, call (937) 275-PARK (7275) or visit our volunteer page.

(Video) Cox Arboretum and gardens MetroPark


1. Road Trip! Cox Arboretum Butterfly House. Five River Metro Parks Dayton Ohio
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3. Winter Walk - Cox Arboretum
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4. A Beautiful Stroll in Cox Arboretum | Explore Dayton
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6. Cox Arboretum MetroPark in Dayton, Ohio | Free Admission
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