Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center provides free family fun. The Conservation Nature Center has helped Cape Girardeau County residents discover nature for the past seven years.
Located within Cape Girardeau's North County Park, the center showcases the rich cultural history and diverse natural resources of Southeast Missouri. Because the nature center is operated by the Missouri Department of Conservation, a state agency supported by fishing and hunting license revenues and the statewide 1/8-of-one percent "Design for Conservation" sales tax, there is no admission charge.
Nature Center Manager Sara Turner, loves to extend invitations to the Nature Center. "I encourage everyone to bring family and friends to enjoy the many things offered at the Nature Center," Turner said.
Inside the nature center visitors find a 160-seat auditorium, three classrooms, hands-on exhibits for all ages, a scientific research laboratory, freshwater aquariums and an indoor wildlife viewing area. Gallery visitors start their experience by learning from Paul Corbin's collection of Native American artifacts including primitive tools that were used to harvest plants and animals hundreds of years ago. Interactive exhibits encourage exploration of the forest, marsh, swamp and big river habitats of Southeast Missouri. Visitors can learn where to go in the region to experience these unique natural features and gain insight into local opportunities for camping, hunting, and fishing.
Outside, "White Oak Trace" features two miles of nature trails allowing visitors to traverse rolling river hills with sinkholes, deep hollows, and ravines covered with prominent stands of poplar and oak. Native plants featured in the nature center's landscape provide habitat for hummingbirds, butterflies and other wildlife species and make the nature center a great place to get ideas for your own landscaping plans.
According to Turner, 43,684 people visited the facility in 2010. Turner said nature center staff provided 416 programs for 30,375 people and hosted meetings for 2,730 people. Turner said well over 278,000 people have visited the nature center since it's opening in May of 2005.
The nature center also has a gift shop, with a wide variety of educational books, videos and nature-related items. Final sales must be made by 4:30 pm.
Things to Do
Attend one of the many public programs, films, workshops or special events offered at the nature center. The Nature Center is open one Thursday evening a month from 5- 8 pm to provide an additional opportunity for busy families to visit the nature center. For more information on our programs, subscribe to the nature center's newsletter, The Tupelo Times.
Bring an organized group by calling in advance to schedule a naturalist-led program or hike. Request a leader guide to help plan your visit. Bus parking is available.
Help a child learn how to fish at the "Kids Only" fishing pond near the nature center's entrance. Fishing poles and bait are available for children ages 15 and under during regular business hours. An ADA accessible dock and boardwalk are now available.
Check out one of six different Discover Nature backpacks to explore the trail and other nature center habitats.
Hike the White Oak Trace trail system where you'll find a sand prairie, Wood Duck Swamp, a rain garden, sinkholes and an observation deck. Our trail also connects to Cape LaCroix Recreation Trail.
Try a new outdoor skill at one of our skills workshops. Topics include camping, Dutch oven cooking, hunting, archery, orienteering, fly fishing and much more.
Explore the exhibit area where you can submit your own nature journaling page, learn how we are connected to the land, watch the "Southeast Story" and view live fish, amphibians and reptiles.
Toddlers and preschoolers can discover nature in the Kids' Nature Nook with books, puzzles puppets and animal artifacts.
Visit the Educator's Resource Room to learn about the curriculum materials, videos, and discovery trunks available to teachers and youth leaders. Schedule a meeting or attend a workshop with a Conservation Education Consultant to experience methods for incorporating conservation principals into all disciplines.
Sign up for the Conservation or Xplor magazines.
Become a volunteer and share your enthusiasm for conservation through various opportunities. In 2010, the volunteer corps of 35 people donated 7,221 hours to serving the public at the nature center.
Visit us online at www.mdc.mo.gov/areas/cnc/cape or call (573)290-5218 for more information about the many opportunities the nature center has to offer.
8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday
Closed on Sundays and Mondays
Closed New Years Day, Thanksgiving, the day after Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
Open daily from sunrise to 10:00 pm
Located within Cape Girardeau's North County Park, just east of Interstate 55 (Exit 99) and Kingshighway (State Highway 61)
Pets, horses, hunting, collecting, littering, fires, and alcoholic beverages are not permitted on the nature center grounds or trails.
Jogging, bicycling, skateboarding, in-line skating, scooters, and motorized vehicles are not permitted on the trails.