MDC’s Columbia Bottom Conservation Area now offers free discovery backpacks for loan

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Saint Louis
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SPANISH LAKE, Mo.—Where can you explore a handful of different worlds in one location?  Columbia Bottom Conservation Area is the place and it’s just 30 minutes from downtown St. Louis.  To help with nature explorations, the Columbia Bottom visitor center is now offering discovery backpacks for loan.

Visitors can check out the discovery packs for day use, which contain information and items to aid in learning more about these different habitats.  Exploring the natural worlds of Columbia Bottom with a discovery backpack is an ideal summer activity.  They offer an excellent self-guided learning experience for individuals, families, and even scout troops. 

Visitors can choose from five discovery packs: 

  • The Forest Pack will help outdoor adventurers take a tour of the area’s bottomland forests.  There’s everything needed to play the Habitat Bingo Game, and go on a forest scavenger hunt.
  • The Birding Pack contains a field guide to identify the 270 species of birds on the area, along with binoculars for a closer look. 
  • The Prairie Pack will help visitors learn about the rare plants and animals that live in native grasslands.  There’s also a net to collect insects. 
  • A Wetland-Slough Pack will acquaint users with life in the water, challenge their knowledge of frogs and toads, and encourage them to discover aquatic insects. 
  • The Adventure Pack offers a little of everything, including tree, bird and animal track guidebooks and binoculars.

There are discovery backpacks tailored for scout troops as well.  The free backpacks are available for loan during visitor center hours.  Visitors will need some form of identification to check out a backpack. The visitor center is open Wednesday through Friday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. 

The 4,300-acre area is owned and managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and is a mosaic of different outdoor worlds—from croplands, to forest, to wetlands, to prairie—all within a short drive, hike, or bike ride.  Columbia Bottom Conservation Area is located at 801 Strodtman Road, three miles north of the I-270/Riverview Drive exit.  To find out more, call Columbia Bottom at 314-877-6014.