Turtle Pond

Located just south of the Great Lawn, Turtle Pond is a two-acre water body that is a popular spot for relaxing, picnicking, and admiring the many species of turtles that call the Pond home.

The shores of the Pond offer the best views of one of Central Park’s most iconic features, Belvedere Castle, perched on the dramatic Vista Rock.

Five species of turtles inhabit the Pond year-round, including red-eared sliders, snapping, painted, musk, and box turtles. By far the most common are red-eared sliders. Distinguished by the red spots around their ears, they spend their days sunbathing on the banks of Vista Rock and sliding into the water to cool off. Most of the sliders in Turtle Pond are former pets, and they are now considered an invasive species because they crowd out other turtle species and contribute to harmful algal blooms. (This disruption of the ecosystem is one reason why it is illegal to release pets or other animals of any kind in the Park.) In the winter, turtles burrow into the mud at the bottom of the Pond.

Turtle Pond is Central Park’s newest water body, created in 1937 as part of the construction of the Great Lawn. It was referred to as Belvedere Lake until 1987, when Parks Commissioner Henry J. Stern renamed the pond in honor of its inhabitants.

As part of the restoration of the Great Lawn in the 1990s, the Conservancy created a more naturalistic shoreline, adding many water-loving plants, and installed a wooden platform for viewing turtles and other wildlife.