Take a Break at Powder Valley

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Published on: Oct. 2, 2007

Last revision: Dec. 3, 2010

Looking for a break from your routine? Are working, housework, laundry, cooking and cleaning out the garage wearing you down? Are the kids staring too much at the TV or their video games? Do you wish there was a place that had something for everyone, got you outside and didn’t cost anything?

I’ve got the perfect answer. Visit Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center in Kirkwood. Even though it’s been around a long time, there are plenty of new things to see and do there.

Powder Valley CNC is a conservation interpretation facility nestled on 112 acres of oak-hickory forest on the northeast corner of Interstates 270 and 44 in Kirkwood.

During the mid-1980s, the Missouri Department of Conservation, looking for a location to serve people in the St. Louis area, purchased this land from the Alwal Moore family.

Once they’d found just the right place, development began. Constructing the building took about 15 months. The doors opened to the public for the first time on Oct. 25, 1991. Since then, more than 1.5 million people have visited the area.

Powder Valley owes its name to the property’s Civil War use as a storage site for explosives. After the battle of Pilot Knob, Union militia stored blasting powder in a cave located in one of the valleys near this area to prepare for a possible invasion of St. Louis by Confederate troops.

During World War I, the DuPont de Nemours Company used nearby sites to manufacture and store explosives. The caves that hid the explosives were across the highway, closer to the Meramec River. They likely collapsed when Interstates 270 and 44 were built.


The nature center itself is a 22,000-square-foot building with 3,500 square feet of exhibits. The exhibits are brand new. The remodeling was finished this year.

The facility also has a 250-seat auditorium and four classrooms to accommodate naturalist-led programs and meetings of conservation-related groups.

A wildlife viewing station, living beehive and 3,000-gallon fish aquarium provide opportunities to observe wildlife up close.

The gift shop is packed with Conservation Department publications and other nature-related merchandise, including bird feeders, compasses and items for children.

On Your Visit

Follow the tracks up the front walk to a map of the area and a native plant garden with signs that identify many of the plants.

One of the first things you’ll want to see in the nature center is a mount of the Missouri Monarch, the world record non-typical white-tailed deer that was found in

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