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Discover Nature in Kansas City: A Guide to Wildlife Refuges and Conservation Areas

Hey there, nature lover! If you’re in Kansas City and looking for a place to get up close and personal with wildlife, you’re in luck. The city is surrounded by wildlife refuges, conservation areas, and parks that are perfect for exploring and observing animals in their natural habitats. In this guide, we’ll introduce you to some of the best spots in and around Kansas City to enjoy nature and wildlife.

Wildlife Refuges and Sanctuaries: What’s the Difference?

First, let’s clear up some confusion about the different types of nature areas. Wildlife refuges, like Jackass Bend National Wildlife Refuge, are federally managed lands that prioritize providing habitat for wildlife. Wildlife sanctuaries, like Martha Lafite Thompson Nature Sanctuary in Liberty, focus on education, awareness, and activism. State parks, like Weston Bend State Park, offer a mix of wildlife viewing and recreational activities.

Missouri-side Wildlife-rich Sites to Consider

For a true wildlife experience in Missouri, check out Jackass Bend National Wildlife Refuge. This 860-acre refuge is perfect for bushwhacking and wildlife spotting. Another great option is Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge, a bird watcher’s paradise located 86 miles north of Kansas City.

If you’re looking for something closer to the city, James A. Reed Memorial Wildlife Area in Lee’s Summit offers diverse habitats and trails. For a more intimate experience, visit Martha Lafite Thompson Nature Sanctuary in Liberty, which focuses on hands-on environmental education.

Wildlife-rich Areas on the Kansas-side

On the Kansas side, Perry Wildlife Area offers wetlands and diverse habitats for wildlife viewing. For a more accessible option, check out Haskell-Baker Wetlands in Lawrence, which features well-maintained trails and educational opportunities. Marais des Cygnes National Wildlife Refuge, located an hour south of Kansas City, is another great spot for birders and nature enthusiasts.

Resources for Identifying Wildlife

Once you’re out exploring, you’ll want to know what you’re looking at! For animal tracks, check out the Animal Tracks of the Midwest Field Guide. For bird identification, try the National Audubon Society’s app or Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology app. If you prefer a book, “The Sibley Guide to Birds” is a fantastic resource.

For plant identification, consider the “Trees of Missouri Field Guide” or “Native Plants of the Midwest.” Alternatively, try a plant ID app like PictureThis.

Ready to Explore?

Now that you know where to go and what resources to use, it’s time to get out there and enjoy the wildlife and natural beauty that Kansas City has to offer. Whether you’re looking to buy a home near one of these amazing spots or just want to spend a day exploring, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant city. Happy adventuring!