Just 14 miles from my home in Union, Missouri, is a little slice of heaven on earth. It could be called a photographer’s dream, a hiker’s paradise, or a plant-lover’s haven. 

Yet, most of us who frequent it call it by one word, “Shaw.”

Shaw Nature Reserve is a 2,441-acre gem located in Franklin County near Interstate 44. I, as well as many other visitors, have lost track of time and place while walking through the various gardens, historic structures, wooded areas, wetlands, and prairies.

Over the decades, I have shared my love of Shaw with family and friends, and have also enjoyed the experience in solitude.

In 2017, I decided to purchase a yearlong walking pass to avoid the $5 daily adult entry fee. It more than paid for itself.

I am not alone in my love of Shaw. Ann Gent, of Washington, Missouri, is a Shaw Nature Reserve enthusiast.

“Shaw has almost become a form of therapy for me. Whether it’s just me roaming around the flower garden for hours taking pictures, or my husband and I hiking the trails, it is the one place that never fails to reset my mood to a more contented and calmer state,” Ann said.

“For me, it has transcended from a local nature reserve into a place that helps me keep my life in balance with the natural world.”

The Missouri Botanical Garden operates Shaw Nature Reserve. Together, they provide more than an outdoor retreat. Art and Plant Shows, educational programs, a children’s area, bookstore, and more are available to the public.

Open year-round from 7 a.m. to sunset, Shaw is an enjoyable place to visit during all seasons thanks to its impressive array of plants, geographical features, and more.

However, Ann prefers one season above the rest.

“It is so exciting in the spring when everything comes to life. Each time you go, you discover new plants and animals. I have found myself daydreaming at work about what will be blooming or what kind of insects will be active,” she shared.

Keep in mind that Shaw Nature Reserve is open to hikers daily, but the visitor center and other special areas may be closed on most major holidays. Before you plan your visit, look them up online or call (314) 577-9555.

Also, if you are an Instagram user, you should follow @shawnaturereserve to see beautiful photography of this special place, as well as posts about upcoming events within the reserve.

I know that following them on Instagram has inspired me to find specific spots within the reserve to see for myself.

I hope that you’ll consider visiting Shaw Nature Reserve in the near future. It’s a true asset to Franklin County and the entire state of Missouri.


 

Michelle Turner lives in Union, Mo.