Winter in Missouri offers an abundance of natural beauty and is a great time to discover nature, both outside and inside.
If you are willing to brave some cold weather in exchange for stark winter beauty, get out and explore some of the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) areas located all around the Show-Me State. Wherever you may be in Missouri, MDC offers conservation areas within a 30-minute drive.
To help in your search, the Department offers a handy online Conservation Area Atlas where you can search by area name, county or region of the state. The Detailed Search function can help you narrow your search by the type of activities in which you are interested, and facilities, such as restrooms, that you may want to have handy. You can even use Google Earth to get a pre-trip view of selected conservation areas.
If you want to discover nature with a bit more warmth and comfort than a winter hike, our nature and interpretive centers around the state are great places to explore. While visiting the centers, you can still get outside and take a walk on a maintained trail or you can stay inside and learn about wildlife through live exhibits and wildlife viewing windows. These centers also offer a variety of nature-based workshops and classes on a multitude of topics for both kids and adults.
In the St. Louis area, visit our August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area in St. Charles County, Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center in St. Louis County near Interstates 270 and 44, Columbia Bottom Conservation Area in north St. Louis County at the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, and Rockwoods Reservation in western St. Louis County.
In the Kansas City area, explore indoor offerings along with eight acres of gardens, walkways, and wildlife located at our Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center near the banks of Brush Creek at Troost in Kauffman Legacy Park. Also visit our Burr Oak Woods Nature Center in Blue Springs.
Down in the southeast region of Missouri? Visit our Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center in Cape Girardeau’s North County Park.
Head to Shannon County in the Missouri Ozarks to learn some history of the Ozarks’ timber industry while you enjoy hiking, birdwatching, nature photography and other nature-related activities at our Twin Pines Conservation Education Center. Displays at Twin Pines include vintage logging equipment, a log cabin and an early 20th century schoolhouse.
In central Missouri? Discover nature at our 100-acre Runge Nature Center in Jefferson City.
In the southwest part of the state? Discover nature at our Springfield Conservation Nature Center. While you’re in the area, visit our Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery six miles southwest of Branson where you can take a tour of MDC’s largest trout-production facility. Visit our Joplin Office in the Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center just south of I-44. Enjoy a nature program, hike, or purchase your fishing/hunting license to start your next outdoor adventure.
For more info on these and other opportunities to discover nature in Missouri, visit the Missouri Department of Conservation online at www.mdc.mo.gov.
Written by Joe Jerek of the Missouri Department of Conservation.