The Rules, What Everyone Should Know

This is a private nonprofit nature sanctuary with 100 acres of land. This means we are not supported by city, state, or federal government tax dollars. The Missouri Department of Conservation leases us the Rush Creek Conservation area, but they do not pay for operating costs.

A Few Guidelines

To help ensure that the Nature Sanctuary operates within our mission and visitors have enjoyable visits, here are a few guidelines:

Please register each time you visit. (Visitation records help us obtain grants and other funding.)

Remember that this nature preserve is designed for hiking, nature study, and observation only. Stay on the trails and protect habitat.

Help keep our maintenance costs in check: park in designated parking areas only.

Honor Martha’s dream: take only memories with you and leave only footprints. Collection of plants, animals, or minerals is not permitted.

Picnic at the picnic shelter. Practice the carry-in carry-out rule. (We do not provide trash containers.)

Remember: scents from dogs and other domestic animals scare the wildlife. Thanks for leaving your pets at home.

Protect our wildlife and your pets. Do not release any animals at this sanctuary. Most released pets, wild or tame, do not survive relocation and may spread diseases.

Remember this is a nature preserve, so bicycles, motorcycles, roller blades, skateboards, and other vehicles should stay at home.

This preserve is private property. Be sure you leave by the posted closing time. If you are on the property when we are closed, we call the police and you could be ticketed for trespassing.

Be aware of the possible hazards of any natural area such as: slippery rocks, uneven terrain, insects, etc. Please use caution when hiking.

To protect habitat and your safety, swimming or wading in the creek or pond is not permitted.

Have a wonderful natural experience!

The Nature Sanctuary


We have about 4 miles of trails. Most of the trails are less than a mile in length. A map of the hiking trails is available in the visitor boxes with the guest register.

We have two asphalt trails, one of which is ADA accessible. The ADA accessible trail (a.k.a. Rush Creek Trail) is about a 1 mile round-trip from the picnic shelter, pictured above, to the creek overlook and back. Trails are open Monday through Sunday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. During summer months, trails are open until 8 p.m.

Nature Center:

Located at the end of the driveway is the Nature Center. Inside are pleasant things such as: restrooms, drinking fountains, exhibits (including live animals), classrooms, and a gift shop. The Nature Center hours are:

Tuesday – Saturday
9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Sunday & Monday


There are no fees to tour the building or explore the grounds, but a requested donation of $5 per vehicle or $2 per person when there are four or more people, thank you. Donations and fees are the sole supply for funding operations, MLTNS does not receive tax dollars. To really help, please purchase an annual membership.


The Nature Sanctuary offers a wide variety of public and private programs. Many of these are listed monthly in our newsletter. We offer public programs for all ages; we also offer private programs for birthday parties, scout groups, and school field trips. If you would like more information brochures are available at the front desk.

Please help Martha Lafite Thompson Nature Sanctuary with a personal donation.