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Shaw Nature Reserve, Gray Summit

#26 of 54 in Wildlife in Missouri
Must see · Wildlife Area · Nature / Park
Shaw Nature Reserve, formerly known as Shaw Arboretum, is a 2,400 acres (9.7 km2) private nature reserve located in Gray Summit, Missouri, that is operated as an extension of the Missouri Botanical Garden.

The first piece of land, 1,300 acres (5.3 km2), was purchased in 1925 when pollution from coal smoke in St. Louis threatened the Garden's live plant collection, especially the orchid collection. The orchids were moved to what was then known as the Gray Summit Extension in 1926. The pollution in St. Louis decreased with the waning use of coal for heat, making it unnecessary to move the rest of the live plant collection. The Garden made five more land purchases between 1926-1977 amounting to the Nature Reserve's current size of 2,444 acres (9.89 km2). The Nature Reserve is currently dedicated to environmental education, to the maintenance and restoration of the region's native flora and fauna, and to public enjoyment of the natural world.

Shaw Nature Reserve has several historic homes (including the Joseph H. Bascom House), a large tallgrass prairie, and a wetland blind from which herons can be observed. The Nature Reserve is also home to the Whitmire Wildflower Garden, a 3 acres (0.012 km2) Missouri native garden with over 500 native plant species. Over 17 miles (27 km) of hiking trails run through the Nature Reserve.

Registering for an advanced e-ticket is recommended before your visit as some timeslots frequently sellout, particularly weekend mornings. Children 12 and younger and Missouri Botanical Garden members are free. Adult tickets cost $5. To purchase e-tickets and learn more about current policies at Shaw Nature Reserve visit

Shaw Nature Reserve is open year-round, 7-days a week, but is closed on some major holidays.

The last entry into Shaw Nature Reserve is 1-hour prior to the posted closing time.

Hours of operation:

(Visit for the most up-to-date public hours as the times below may change year to year based on daylight savings time.)

January 1–March 13: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

March 14–31: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

April 1–August 31: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

September 1–30: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

October 1–31: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

November 1–December 31: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Visitor Center is open during the regular operating hours listed above. The Nature Reserve is a tobacco-free environment. Pets, weapons, collecting natural materials, and swimming are not permitted. Services dogs are welcome. Visitors must adhere to posted guidelines and closing time. Thank you, in advance, for your cooperation.

For more information on organized tour and education programs, contact the Visitor Center at (314) 577-9555.
A visit to Shaw Nature Reserve represents just the start of the adventure when you use our Gray Summit road trip website to plot your vacation.
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Shaw Nature Reserve reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
67 reviews
  • I love the plant labels in specific areas and all the different habitats to explore. There are glades, ponds, prairies, wildflower areas, overlooks, and more. Really fun for pictures. We didn’t...  more »
  • An interesting nature reserve. Be sure to spend time touring the bascom house with a docent. Fascinating history. Lots of conservation materials available throughout.  more »
  • So much to say. So much to experience, really. Everything you would want and expect in a nature reserve and Park. Feels like it's your own home. Like your own Plantation. All for like $3 per visit LOL Never many people here yet very well taken care of. Be sure to go on the weekdays when they let you drive your car back on the trails. Oh and that pond near the entrance. There's a romantic spot with tall trees, just near the bridge to cross the pond. You can't miss it. You'll see it ;) Sit there and Ponder what a blessed life you've had. Sit there and paint something on your easel... any hour if the day.
  • I recently moved to Missouri, and I went here to meet a new friend. It was a beautiful day, and this place is was so much more beautiful than I thought it could be. It's an overwhelming example of everything Missouri has to offer. So much wildlife and such a wide variety of flowers, trees, and nature. I love this place for the memories I made as well. This place will shears have a place in my heart.

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