With trails calling, water sparkling and fish biting, it’s time to discover Missouri’s great outdoors.


Missouri Department of Conservation has more than 1,000 conservation areas around the state. MDC conservation areas cover nearly one million public acres for the purpose of restoring and conserving fish, forest and wildlife resources and for providing opportunities for all citizens to use, enjoy and learn about these resources. Most Missourians are within a 30-minute drive of an MDC conservation area.

Spring is the perfect time to enjoy a hike on the trails. There are nearly 700 miles of hiking trails that zigzag through conservation areas, including 40 miles of the beautiful and rugged Ozark Trail. From hiking and bird watching at Three Creeks Conservation Area to enjoying the trails at one of MDC’s nature centers, hiking trails can be found almost anywhere throughout the state. To find a trail near you, stroll over to MDC’s trail page at mdc.mo.gov/node/3392.

AlFresco_BennettSpringTROUT FISHING

Conservation makes Missouri a great place to trout fish, and now is the time to cast out a line. Tuesday, March 1, marks the opening of catch-and-keep trout fishing at the Show-Me State’s four trout parks: Bennett Spring State Park near Lebanon, Montauk State Park near Licking, Roaring River State Park near Cassville and Maramec Spring Park near St. James. Anglers need a daily trout tag to fish in Missouri’s trout parks. Daily trout tags can only be purchased at each of the four trout parks. Missouri residents, ages 16 through 64, need a fishing permit in addition to the daily tag. Nonresidents, 16 years and older, also need a fishing permit. Learn more about other fun fishing spots at MDC’s website at huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/fishing.

MDC annually stocks around 800,000 trout at the state’s four trout parks and approximately 1.5 million statewide. Trout fishing is not only fun for anglers, but it also provides a significant economic boost in Missouri. Trout anglers spend a surplus of $100 million each year in the Show-Me-State, which generates approximately $180 million in business activity, supports 2,300 jobs and creates $70 million dollars in wages.


Floating Missouri’s streams is a fantastic way to enjoy our state’s great outdoors. Whether your passion is angling for smallmouth or rock bass, keeping an eye out for elusive wildlife or simply drifting downstream with the current, a day on the river will lift your spirits. To learn more about floating, MDC offers floating events throughout the year. Also, check out A Paddler’s Guide to Missouri, which features 58 Missouri rivers and streams for canoeing and kayaking. This book is available at www.MDCnatureshop,com and at MDC nature centers.

Whether you like to hike, bike, float, fish, hunt or wildlife watch with the whole family or by yourself, Missouri has an abundance of outdoor opportunities that await your discovery and enjoyment.


With more than 1 million visitors per year, MDC’s nature and interpretive centers help families connect with nature in a variety of ways, such as teaching about wildlife through live exhibits or learning about nature on hikes. They also offer workshops and classes on multiple topics including outdoor skills.

AlFresco_SidebarJefferson City

Runge Conservation Nature Center is located at 330 Commerce Dr. The nature center is a 100-acre area that features a visitor center with exhibits and live-animal displays, special events, trails, demonstrations and diverse natural habitats. For more information call 573- 526-5544.


Springfield Conservation Nature Center is located at 4600 Chrisman Ave. Visitors can explore 79 acres of forest, glade, woodland, prairie plantings, creeks and frontage on Lake Springfield. Also, visitors are encouraged to explore the visitor center’s multi-sensory, self-guided exhibit area. For more information call 417-888-4237.

Cape Girardeau

Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center is located at 3389 County Park Dr. The nature center offers activities for everyone, such as hiking on the two-mile White Oak Trace natural trail or seeing native fish in freshwater aquariums. For more information call 573-290-5213.

Kansas City Area

Burr Oak Woods Conservation Nature Center is located at 1401 Northwest Park Rd. in Blue Springs. The nature center offers educational and informative exhibits to the general public. It has a 3,000-gallon freshwater aquarium, a discover nature play area, a wildlife viewing room, six hiking trails and much more. For more information about the nature center, call 816-228-3766.

Anita B. Gorman Conservation Discovery Center is located at 4750 Troost Ave. in Kansas City. Explore eight acres of gardens, including a pond, walkways and watchable wildlife at the Discovery Center. The Discovery Center has numerous live-animal and energy-efficient exhibits. For more information about the Discovery Center, call 816-759-7300.


Twin Pines Conservation Education Center is located off Route 1. Explore the education center’s outside exhibits, including a cabin, 1900s schoolhouse, antique forestry equipment and forest-management demonstration areas. For more information call 573-325-1381.


Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery is located at 483 Hatchery Rd. The hatchery features a visitor center with exhibits and displays. It also offers guided tours of the hatchery. The Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery is MDC’s largest trout-production facility, which produces between 350,000 and 400,000 pounds of rainbow and brown trout each year. For more information call 417-334-4865.


Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center is located at 201 Riviera Dr. This interpretive center has a variety of free programs throughout the year. It is also the home to MDC’s Joplin Conservation Office where visitors can find hiking trails and places for a picnic. For more information on Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center, call 417-629-3423.

St. Louis Area

Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center is located on 11715 Cragwold Rd. The nature center is nestled within 112 acres of oak-hickory forest, which features a great wildlife viewing area, numerous hands-on exhibits and a 3,000-gallon aquarium full of native fish species. For more information call 314-301-1500.

Columbia Bottom Conservation Area is located at 801 Strotdtman Rd. in St. Louis at the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. Enjoy the visitor center, exhibits, trails and a viewing area at the confluence. Learn more about interpretive area by calling 314-877-6014.

August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area is located at 2360 Highway D in St. Charles. The 6,987-acre conservation area is home to MDC’s St. Louis regional office, which includes a visitor center. The Busch Area offers hiking trails and numerous hunting and fishing opportunities, which is a local connection to Missouri’s fish, forests and wildlife. For more information call 636-441-4554.

Rockwoods Reservation is located at 2751 Glencoe Rd. in Wildwood. This interpretive center offers numerous trails, demonstration areas and many exhibits about Missouri’s fish, forests and wildlife. Call 636-458-2236 for more information.

The state [ Missouri ] offers many great opportunities for people to enjoy nature including fishing, floating, hiking and hunting.