The rights of other visitors to enjoy the Garden must always be respected. The Garden reserves the right to ask a visitor to leave for inappropriate or offensive behavior. Visitors will be held liable for any damage to Garden property.

Visitors to Shaw Nature Reserve (a location of the Missouri Botanical Garden) voluntarily assume all risk, loss, damages, liability, and danger for injury or damage to person or property and all hazards arising from or related to admission to the Garden or its family of attractions and participation in any exhibits or attractions. Visitors agree not to use commercially any photography or reproduction in any form taken at the Garden or its family of attractions. Visitors grant permission to the Garden and its designees to utilize their image, likeness, actions, or statements in any form taken during a visit to the Garden or its family of attractions for the purpose of promoting the Garden and its family of attractions in perpetuity.


  • Please leave flowers and plants for everyone to enjoy. Do not collect or remove seeds, flowers, fruits and vegetables, plant labels, etc.
  • Please stay on trails.


  • No fires.
  • No alcoholic beverages.
  • Picnicking is allowed at the designated table areas only.


  • Bicycles are permitted on service roads only.


  • No pets allowed, please. Service animals (not Emotional Support Animals) are welcome at the Shaw Nature Reserve. Please review these guidelines to help you enjoy your visit with your assistance animal.
  • Do not feed or handle the wildlife. It can be harmful to them—and you.
  • No hunting or fishing.


  • Shaw Nature Reserve is a tobacco-free environment. Smoking and tobacco products and devices are not allowed on Shaw Nature Reserve property, including all buildings, grounds, restrooms, and parking lots.
  • We care about the environment. Please dispose of waste in recycling bins when appropriate. Do not litter.


  • For visitor, individual, or family photography, please refer to our Photography Policy.
  • Wedding and bridal parties must abide by the rules and guidelines outlined in the Photography Policy.
  • Photos and videos are not to be sold or used for any commercial purposes without advanced project review and authorization; projects will be approved on a case-by-case basis and will occasion fees.
  • If a visitor is asked by another person not to take pictures of that person or others accompanying that person, the request must be honored to protect personal rights of privacy. If a picture has already been taken, it must be deleted upon request.
  • For more information, please call (314) 577-9555 or email


  • Shirts and shoes are required at all times.
  • In respect to all Nature Reserve visitors, patrons wearing articles of clothing that may be taken as profane, vulgar, racist, sexist, or sexually suggestive, including slogans/illustrations, may be asked to change clothing before entering the Garden.
  • Clothing changes (including those for photography shoots) are not permitted outdoors. To inquire about space rental for clothing changes, call (314) 577-9529.


  • Light collapsible chairs or stools are permitted for artists at work. Please position chairs in a grassy area or large paved area so walkways remain clear. Do not enter planted or mulched beds. Watercolor artists, please dispose of wastewater carefully in sinks; do not dispose on walkways, benches rocks, plants or garden areas, as they can become discolored.


  • Formal/informal groups or parties are not allowed to hold meetings, weddings, memorial services or christenings at the Nature Reserve without advance space rental. For information about rentals, please email or call (314) 577-9555


  • Non-school classes led by an instructor not affiliated with the Missouri Botanical Garden are prohibited. This applies to both for-profit and not-for-profit classes. Call (314) 577-9555 for more information. All school-based groups (including colleges and universities) wishing to hold either a Nature Reserve-led or self-guided class must register with the Nature Reserve. To ensure a quality experience for all visitors, we have established a maximum number of group admissions per hour per day. Early registration will help us reserve your preferred arrival time


  • Do not wade or swim in ponds, streams or the Meramec River.
  • Please keep your personal items with you at all times. Shaw Nature Reserve cannot be held responsible for missing items. If you recover an item on the grounds that does not belong to you, please turn it in to the Visitor's Center.
  • For their safety, please supervise children at all times. One adult should accompany every five children.
  • No climbing trees unless part of a class.
  • Weapons and firearms are prohibited at the Shaw Nature Reserve.


  • Weapons and firearms or fireworks of any kind
  • Grills or open flames
  • Pets (service animals are welcome)
  • Smoking, tobacco products and devices, or electronic smoking devices
  • Amplified music (speakers)
  • Two-wheeled scooters (including "wheelie" shoes, skates, or skateboards)
  • Outside alcohol
  • Guests without shoes or shirts
  • Guests with clothing that may be taken as profane, vulgar, racist, sexist, or sexually suggestive
  • Balloons, open flames, sparklers
  • Large signage or banners
  • Flowers, flower petals, props, glitter, confetti, or candles
  • Sporting equipment (soccer balls, baseballs and gloves, footballs, hula hoops, frisbees, etc.)


  • Shaw Nature Reserve values the visitor experience. In order to provide a distraction-free environment for our guests, we do not allow solicitation or petitioning of any kind from any outside, non-sanctioned entity on Shaw Nature Reserve property, regardless of the organization or cause being represented. This includes but is not limited to, the circulation or distribution of literature, brochures, handbills, flyers, leaflets, signage, pamphlets, notices, cards, advertising, promotional items, petitions, registrations, etc. Informational tables and booths are not permitted unless authorization is given by Shaw Nature Reserve.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

Don't see the information you're looking for? Here are a few questions you might have while you plan your visit to the Shaw Nature Reserve.


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When is the reserve open?

Regular Hours (September 1 - March 31): 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Extended Hours (April 1 - August 31): 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

How do I get there?

Shaw Nature Reserve is on I-44 in Gray Summit, Missouri, approximately 32 miles southwest of the Missouri Botanical Garden (in St. Louis) and 22 miles west of the I-44/I-270 interchange. The Gray Summit I-44 exit is #253, just two exits west of Six Flags (Allenton/Eureka).

  • Westbound I-44 from exit ramp, turn left, crossing over I-44. Turn right at the intersection (at the Phillips 66) and go 50 yards to the large iron gates on the left side of the road.
  • Eastbound I-44, from exit ramp #253, turn right at top of ramp and then another right at at intersection (at the Phillips 66) and go 50 yards to the large iron gates on the left side of the road.

Is there a visitor center?


We ask that all visitors stop to register at the Visitor Center, located at the entrance.  First time visitors will receive a map of the hiking trails and helpful suggestions. Trail guides and books on natural history and other related topics are available for purchase.

May I bicycle on the grounds?

We welcome bicycles at the Reserve, but we ask that you bike on the service roads only.  There are approximately 7 miles of gravel road.  There are bicycle racks at major trail heads where you can park your bikes and take a hike.

Shaw Nature Reserve trail map

What areas are wheelchair accessible?

The Bascom House is currently closed but we look forward to welcoming visitors back inside in the future. When it is open, the first floor and restrooms off the back porch are wheelchair accessible. The Whitmire Wildflower Garden is also wheelchair accessible; however, in addition to paved paths, some of the paths in the garden are of wood chips and therefore more difficult to negotiate in a wheelchair.

The Wetland Trail is ADA approved. The wetland trail parking lot is accessible by car. The wetland trail is an out-and-back trail that is full sun and approximately 2-miles round trip. We recommend a cooler day and stopping on the wetland boardwalk to enjoy the view of the largest wetland cell as you relax before traversing back. 

The glade overlook (in the vicinity of the Trail House) is down a 50-yard path of finely crushed gravel. It is a downhill walk and an uphill walk on your way back.

Visitor information

Can I use a stroller on the paths?

The larger and thicker the tires of a stroller, the smoother the ride on Shaw Nature Reserve's paths. The Whitmire Wildflower Garden and the Bascom House are easily managed with all types of strollers, but we recommend large tires on hiking trails. Many hikers choose to use a backpack carrier on uneven hiking trails. 

Visitor information

Are there eating facilities on the grounds?

The Reserve itself has no food concessions but does have three picnic areas – one near the Visitor Center, one behind the Bascom House, and one located at the Trail House.   We do not allow grilling, however.

Restaurants near us

Are you open all year?

Yes!  We are open for visitors year round.  In fact, in winter when we get a good snow, the Reserve is a wonderful place to cross country ski.

Shaw Nature Reserve hours

Do you allow pets?

No, not even on a leash.  No pets are allowed on the grounds.

Do you have restrooms and water fountains?


Restrooms and water fountains are located at the Visitor Center, Bascom House, and Trail House.  There is also a water fountain at the Bus Stop but no restroom.

Is there poison ivy at the reserve?

Yes, poison ivy is a native plant and an important food source for many birds.  We try to keep poison ivy away from the trails but it grows where it wants to so learn how to identify it if you are allergic.

We also have stinging nettle here.  The best way to avoid plants that may harm you is to stay on the trails.

Are there ticks and chiggers at the reserve?

Yes. To avoid getting ticks and chiggers try not to touch vegetation, use insect repellent, and wash soon after hiking. If you do get a tick on you remove it immediately and inform your doctor.

more about ticks

more about chiggers

The best way to avoid insects that may harm you is to stay on the trails.


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