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Exploring STL: Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center

2015 May 3
by Becky

We’re crossing off places like crazy this summer, exploring something different every week. This week, on a lazy Friday for which we had no plans, we decided to check out a long-recommended attraction, Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center.



Ok, so this is a place I’d heard people talk about, namely Mrs. Linda at the Transportation Museum—she can go on for DAYS about this place—and here we’d somehow missed it till now. Someone once told me the nature center was “small” so we’ve been saving this excursion for a beautiful, warm day, which Friday surely was. My friend Breezy and her son Connor joined us for the impromptu visit, none of us really knowing what to expect.

Those of you who have been here know what happened…

Powder Valley - Nature Center


We walked in to the unassuming Nature Center and proceeded to freak out over all the amazing stuff there was to do here. Small it is not. At all. Missouri wildlife surrounded us in beautiful displays and informational graphics, filling our boys with energy to explore.

And everything was designed perfectly for little kids.



We weren’t in the nature center ten minutes and had already played with adroable animal puppets, made a leaf rubbing, stared at poisonous snakes, and watched giant snapping turtles attack the worms they were fed. The boys were shrieking “Look!! Watch! Oh my gosh!” about everything, every five seconds. They were totally pumped.

I’m sure the people sitting at the bird-watching windows were very appreciative this was going on two feet from their comfy couches. We joined them (quietly) to check out the blue jays, cardinals, squirrels, and chipmunks darting through the beautifully landscaped back yard area. It was quite the menagerie.

Then we headed downstairs to really begin our Nature Center journey. It started in a “backyard”.



“Ewwww!! Look at that spider! And there’s a worm!!” the boys loved the close up look at what might be crawling through the soil. We meandered through exhibits, one after another, surprised at every turn. Telescopes, knobs, screens, buttons, and live animals were everywhere.



A bunch of huge Missouri-local fish in a 3,000 gallon aquarium, pretty aweseome. My favorite part was probably the giant tree house. We left the stroller and climbed safe steps to it’s adorable tree-top entrance to look around inside.




Ethan out the “window” with super cool binoculars and we avoided a giant (fake) snake who was lunching on a mouse. What kid doesn’t want to just move into a tree house? And this one was really exciting.

The Nature Center went on and on, we could have spent several hours inspecting everything and playing, I’m still totally astounded by the exceptional design and really fun layout of this space. You can’t help but learn while walking through it! Everything was so inviting. The boys loved sticking their faces in the animal heads throughout the space, there was a deer, a frog, a fly, and a fish…I guess they were seeing as the animal sees? I didn’t find out because it was too funny watching them pop in and out. 

We had a hike in our plans so we dragged the boys outside (again, we seriously underestimated the fun to be had inside) and headed down a short, easy trail.


The boys ran at top speed down the paved path, safe but out of our sight and we were having a hard time relaxing while calling them back constantly. I may have mentioned the possibility of bears to keep Ethan, and in turn Connor, a little closer. It worked. Hey, there are bears in Missouri! Somewhere.

Walking as a pack made it possible to point out flowers, birds, leaves covered with what looked like eggs, and radical vines perfectly suited for swinging. And of course, fallen-tree climbing.


Hey look at this! I made it in a picture! I was there! So was Finn, mostly stroller and Ergo clad. He loved watching the big boys run around like little maniacs and the trails were extremely stroller friendly. The cool breeze and chirping birds made the day perfection.


Ethan has already asked at least 46 times if we can go back, he is hooked as am I. I’ve heard this is a great place to camp too! I can’t wait to do a longer hike and see more of the wildlife this area has to offer.

Of course all of this was completely free, not busy, and was about 15 minutes from our front door, just like most of the awesomeness St. Louis has to offer. If you didn’t know it was there, right next to the intersection of Hwy 44 and Kirkwood Road, you’d never know.

Now you do!

Add this to the enormous list of summer to-dos, it’s a blast!! We’ll probably see you there.

Have you been here? What other gems am I missing? Still can’t believe this was our first time checking out this incredible place. 

5 Responses
  1. Elizabeth P permalink
    May 3, 2015

    The tiny train in Wildwood is pretty fun!

    • Becky permalink*
      May 4, 2015

      Wildwood?? It’s so far!!! Just kidding, I totally forgot about the little train! We will add it to the list!!

  2. Sarah permalink
    May 4, 2015

    Have you done the latest me elk park combined with the world bird sanctuary?

  3. Sarah permalink
    May 4, 2015

    Ok seriously this autocorrect is driving me nuts….lone elk park

    • Becky permalink*
      May 4, 2015

      Yes! We love those places! Last time we were at Lone Elk we saw TONS of elk crossing the water and bugling…it was awesome.

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