Natural Areas Visitor Guidelines
Planning a Visit? Check the area web page for regulations and use details.
Most natural areas are open to the public, and low-impact, appropriate public use is encouraged. Regulations on each Missouri natural area vary, so please consult the area's Web page and call the manager for permitted uses and other details before you visit.
Tips to Remember
- Dress appropriately for the weather and the bugs. Missouri’s summers are hot and ticks, chiggers and mosquitoes are common. Make sure to bring enough water, regardless of the season.
- Be aware that natural areas are owned and managed by a variety of organizations. Although the following apply to most natural areas, it’s a good idea to contact each area’s manager for detailed information and regulations.
- Natural areas are typically open from sunrise to sunset every day of the year.
- Do not collect plants, animals, minerals or artifacts. Nuts, berries, fruits and mushrooms may be taken only for personal consumption unless further regulated by the natural area owner. Collecting for scientific research requires a permit issued by the owner of the natural area.
- Vehicles, including off-highway vehicles and all-terrain vehicles, are prohibited except on roads open to public transportation.
- Access is by foot or watercraft only, except for designated horse and bike trails. However, in the Mark Twain National Forest, horse riders and bicyclists may travel freely off trails.
- Please keep pets on leashes.
- Rock climbing and rappelling are prohibited.
- Hunting is prohibited on natural areas managed by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and The Nature Conservancy. Hunting is allowed on most natural areas managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation, Mark Twain National Forest and Ozark National Scenic Riverways. Check with the area’s manager for specific regulations.
- Fishing is allowed on most natural areas except those owned by The Nature Conservancy. Check with the area’s manager for specific regulations.
- Primitive camping is allowed on some natural areas. Check with the area’s manager for regulations.
- Although caving is discouraged on most natural areas, it is allowed in some places. Check with the area’s manager for specific regulations.
- Trapping is allowed on some natural areas. Check with the area’s manager for specific regulations.
- Geocaching is permitted on some natural areas owned by the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the Mark Twain National Forest. A permit is required from the area manager.