This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Missouri Natural Areas Program. These areas represent natural communities that have been the least impacted by modern humans. They contain a treasure trove of Missouri's natural diversity including more than 2,000 native plants, 60 native reptiles, 150 native breeding birds, 40 native amphibians and 180 native fish species.
You can travel back through time by visiting natural areas around the state. These areas preserve what remains of original landscapes seen by early Native Americans and Lewis and Clark, and feature rare plants, animals and unique geology.
You might hike through majestic old forests or desert-like glades -- canoe through an old cypress swamp or by a cool, blue-water spring -- or photograph wildflowers among tall prairie grasses.
Missouri’s Natural Areas include 184 special places that have been protected and studied by conservation groups for 40 years. They are some of the most scenic spots in Missouri and the only place certain animals and plants live. You can find one near or far, and explore our state’s rich diversity and natural history. Plan your visit today to support Missouri’s most natural areas.
Missouri's natural areas represent some of the best and last examples of our state's original landscape. 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.
Want to visit Missouri’s natural areas? You can search them using our comprehensive guide.