Nature Viewing Guide
Park the canoe and hike through the forests and clearings, where white-tailed deer and wild turkey forage for food.
Amidon Memorial Conservation Area
The main entrance is in Madison County, east of Fredericktown on Highway J, south on Highway W, then east on County Road 208.
A one-mile trail leads to the pink granite shut-ins on the Castor River where mink, raccoon, little blue herons and belted kingfishers compete for fish. Further on, the trail passes through granite glades where songbirds, wild turkey, coyote and white-tailed deer can be spotted.
In the forests of oak and natural pine stands, you can hear the eerie call of the pileated woodpecker and see gray squirrels sunning in the trees. Also look for signs of bobcat and fox.
Star School Hill Prairie Conservation Area
In Atchison County just north of Rock Port, take Highway 136 to Highway 275. Go north on 275 for 14 miles to the area entrance on the right side of the highway.
Star School Hill Prairie Conservation Area is a refuge for rare and endangered plants, such as beard-tongue, yucca, downy painted cup and skeleton plant. These rugged river hills also are the home of many birds of prey. Look to the skies to see great-horned owls and red-tailed hawks. White-tailed deer, bobwhite quail, cottontail rabbits and wild turkey often can be seen on this 129-acre area that also offers a scenic view of the Missouri River Valley.
Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area
From the junction of U.S. 65 and Missouri 248 north of Branson, take 248 west 2.5 miles to the Shepherd of the Hills Expressway. Continue west on the expressway four miles to Missouri 76. Turn west on 76 for one-half mile to the area entrance on the right.
The dry, rocky glades of the Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area make this a great place to see tarantulas and scorpions and fence and eastern collared lizards. Look for them between the little bluestem and Indian grass and under the smoke trees and Ashe junipers. Wildflowers give the glades a continuous display of blooms from early spring to fall.
While in the area, take a drive east down Highway 76. Turn south on 165 until you get to Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery where in the winter you can see birds of prey, including black vultures that live in large, social roosts before they disperse in the spring.
Fountain Grove Conservation Area
On Route W, five miles south