Shaw Nature Reserve

Highway 100 and I-44
Gray Summit, MO 63039


About Us:
Shaw Nature Reserve strives to inspire responsible stewardship of our environment through education, restoration and protection of natural habitats, and public enjoyment of the natural world.

Shaw Nature Reserve, an extension of the Missouri Botanical Garden, includes 2,500 acres of natural Ozark landscape and managed plant collections. Located 35 miles southwest of St. Louis in Gray Summit, Missouri, it provides environmental education, ecological research and public enjoyment of the natural world. 

The Nature Reserve was founded by the Garden in 1925 when coal smoke from the city threatened the living plant collections housed at the Garden. Though the orchid collection was moved to the Nature Reserve in 1926, pollution in the city cleared before it was necessary to move the entire plant collection.

The diversity and size of the Nature Reserve, combined with the considerable scientific and educational resources of the Garden, provide a unique opportunity for outdoor education. Besides providing workshops and classes for thousands of children and adults each year, the Nature Reserve serves as an outdoor laboratory for the development and testing of a variety of innovative outdoor programs. More recently the Nature Reserve has become a focus for the study of fire ecology and habitat restoration.

The Nature Reserve features a variety of settings in which visitors may enjoy the out-of-doors. The Pinetum is a 55-acre park-like expanse of meadows studded with plantings of conifers from around the world. In spring it comes alive with thousands of Narcissus and flowering trees. The Whitmire Wildflower Garden is a five-acre concentration of natural beauty in the form of Missouri and eastern U.S. native wildflowers in naturalistic plantings, accented by native grasses, shrubs and trees.

The Shaw Nature Reserve Ecological Reserve contains 13 miles of hiking trails through a full array of Ozark Border landscapes, including floodplain forest, oak-hickory woods, glades, bluffs, tallgrass prairie, savanna and marsh wetlands. The latter three are landscapes which once covered much of Missouri and are being restored or recreated from former farmland in the Nature Reserve.

The Joseph H. Bascom House, an elegant brick mansion, built in 1879 contains a splendid array of exhibits made possible by a challenge grant from the Missouri Department of Conservation. The exhibit, entitled "People on the Land", illustrates the broad environmental and conservation themes so important to the Nature Reserve's mission. more info on the Bascom House

Shaw Nature Reserve has become increasingly popular through the years. To accommodate and encourage growth in visitor attendance and participation in education programs, plans have been made for gradual improvement of existing facilities over the next few years.

The ultimate goal of all improvements will be to further the Nature Reserve's mission of educating visitors about the plants, animals, and ecosystems of the region.

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