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Get Close to Nature in Kansas City: Wildlife Refuges and Conservation Areas

Hey there, nature lover! If you’re in Kansas City and looking for a place to connect with the great outdoors, you’re in luck. The city has plenty of wildlife refuges and conservation areas where you can enjoy nature and spot some amazing animals. So, let’s dive into some of the best spots to visit around Kansas City.

Wildlife Refuges and Sanctuaries: What’s the Difference?

First, let’s clear up some confusion. Wildlife refuges, like Jackass Bend National Wildlife Refuge, are federally managed lands that focus on providing habitat for wildlife. Wildlife sanctuaries, like Martha Lafite Thompson Nature Sanctuary in Liberty, are usually smaller and focus on education, awareness, and activism. State parks, like Weston Bend State Park, are multi-use areas that may offer wildlife viewing but also cater to other outdoor activities.

Missouri-side Wildlife-rich Sites

For a true wildlife experience in Missouri, check out Jackass Bend National Wildlife Refuge. This 860-acre refuge is perfect for bushwhacking through lowland forests and spotting deer, owls, turkeys, and more. Just be prepared to pack out everything you pack in!

If you’re up for a drive, Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge is a bird watcher’s paradise. With miles of multi-use trails and a 10-mile auto tour, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to spot amazing birds.

For a more family-friendly option, visit the Martha Lafite Thompson Nature Sanctuary in Liberty. This 100-acre sanctuary offers educational experiences, trails, and hands-on environmental learning for all ages.

Kansas-side Wildlife-rich Areas

On the Kansas side, Perry Wildlife Area is a fantastic spot for wildlife viewing. With wetlands, woods, and grasslands, you’ll have a diverse range of habitats to explore and animals to spot.

For a more accessible option, check out the Haskell-Baker Wetlands in Lawrence. With well-maintained trails and a focus on education, this is a great spot for families and birdwatchers alike.

Marais des Cygnes National Wildlife Refuge, located an hour south of Kansas City, offers a unique mix of bottomland hardwood forests, prairie, and wetlands. It’s an ideal escape for birders and nature lovers.

Resources for Identifying Wildlife

When you’re out exploring these amazing areas, you’ll likely encounter a variety of wildlife. To help you identify what you see, consider investing in a field guide like “Animal Tracks of the Midwest” or “Trees of Missouri Field Guide.” For bird lovers, the National Audubon Society and Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology both offer fantastic apps to help you identify birds by sight and sound.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab your binoculars, pack your hiking essentials, and head out to explore the incredible wildlife refuges and conservation areas around Kansas City. And if you fall in love with the area, why not buy a home near one of these amazing spots? Happy exploring!