Places We Protect


Chilton Creek Research and Demonstration Area

Open woodland forest habitat at Chilton Creek
Chilton Creek Open woodland forest habitat at Chilton Creek © Byron Jorjorian

Chilton Creek offers visitors an array of natural wonders to explore.




The Chilton Creek Research and Demonstration Area is the largest Conservancy-owned property in Missouri at more than 5,500 acres. This site serves as an outdoor classroom to area school children as well as a safe habitat for a variety of plant and animal species.

It is a large landscape with diverse native habitats and community types that are representative of the rugged hills along the scenic Current River.  Chilton Creek offers visitors an array of natural wonders to explore: woodlands, glades, springs, creeks and fens. Floristically, it is one of the most biologically rich landscapes in Missouri, harboring more than 700 species of flowering plants. Additionally, a rich collection of native plants and animals can be found here, including dozens of breeding neotropical migratory birds and half of the known snail species in Missouri.


The preserve is characterized by rugged, steeply dissected valleys and hollows, and covered by a large expanse of relatively continuous woodland with small glades and fens. Spring and summer are prime viewing times. A high clearance two-wheel drive or a four-wheel drive vehicle is necessary to access the preserve. High water from heavy rains can make the preserve inaccessible.

What the Conservancy is Doing

Working in partnership with the Missouri Department of Conservation, The Conservancy has established Chilton Creek as a sort of "outdoor laboratory" for testing land management techniques, such as large-scale woodland fire.  Our goal is to understand the relationship between biodiversity management and timber and wildlife interests, and to export this knowledge to like-minded partners in the Ozarks.

Hunting and Camping

Limited hunting and camping are permitted; contact TNC’s Van Buren office for additional information at (573) 323-8790) or email




Hiking, bird watching, wildflower viewing, exploring.  The Current River offers opportunities for fishing, canoeing, and swimming.

Explore our work in this region

You Can Support Our Work in Missouri

We rely on the generous support of individuals like you to continue our work at Chilton Creek and around the state. Now is your chance to give back to nature.