Runge Nature Center; Jefferson City, MO

I’m going to start off by saying that this post writing is likely to be a bit rusty. You see, I just had a baby. Which means that the 9 months prior to that, I was pregnant. And for those of you that know me well, know how much I loathe pregnancy. My achievements during pregnancy include sleep, lounging in my pjs, and more sleep. I’ll be the first to admit that I pretty much peace out on life during pregnancy. I don’t feel like myself and trust me, it shows.

Now that my precious Easton is here, I am beginning to feel like my former self. Slowly, I’m starting to get back to running and I have even been putting some time into blog-type business. I haven’t forgotten about my alter ego, Pan. Oh no no. She’s been here all along, hiding in the shadows, waiting for the beast of pregnancy to vacate my body.

So, my next tale is about my first post-pregnancy outing (aside from the daily tasks of grocery shopping and the like). Tuesday afternoon was yet another bitter cold day for Missourians so I met up with my gal pal (kids in tow, of course) at the Runge Nature Center in Jefferson City.

Even though I live about 10 minutes from the Runge, this was a first time for me. It’s operated by the Missouri Dept of Conservation and showcases live snakes, fish, and other small reptiles plus other nature-related displays.

fish aquarium

fish aquarium


The parking lot was deceiving (it looked like the place was going to be packed) but there really weren’t many people there. The building was deceiving as well; it looks quite large when you’re outside but once you get in, there’s really not that much inside.


There’s an outdoor viewing area that overlooks the woods where several birdfeeders have been placed.




There seems to me to have been an abundance of snake exhibits. I’m not sure why they’re so obsessed with snakes.



You can just barely see the green snake wrapped around the tree branch. That night at dinner, Olivia was using her green bean as a snake and making slithering snake noises. So, for her it had some lasting impact, I suppose.


Me and my friend liked this next exhibit. There is a tree slice laying on the ground that shows the age of the tree and displays the rings. The great thing about this tree is that the rings were marked with the year. Say, 1940 for example. It pointed out areas of drought and areas where there was fire damage. It’s absolutely amazing to me, that the actual age of the tree and all the years in between (including important weather conditions that took place through the years) are all able to be pinpointed just by looking at a cross section of tree. Amazing.



I thought that the Runge would be more specific to the wildlife and nature in Missouri but it was not. It was more generalized including nature topics from areas across the United States.



When I was young, there was folklore that there were mountain lions and black panthers hiding in the shadows of the woods in Callaway County, where I grew up. Of course, nobody had ever actually seen one, that I knew of. Several years ago an actual mountain lion was hit by a vehicle on the highway about 2 miles away from my parents house! So, folklore in this case turned out to be true. Officials took the mountain lion and he is displayed here at the Runge. This was the highlight of the day for me.


The kids enjoyed themselves I think more so just because this was something to do that got us out of the house. I think we can all agree that it’s been a terribly long winter.


In short, I wasn’t overly pleased with the center. The few displays and live creature exhibits were great but we had explored everything within an hour. It’s free so it’s nice if you need a good reason just to get out of the house, like we did. There are several nature trails in behind the facility that would probably be good to check out as well, but it was way too cold for us to attempt that. They do host special events so check out the website here to look at the schedule.





3 comments on “Runge Nature Center; Jefferson City, MO

  1. Definitely give it another shot when the weather is nice. The trails are kid-friendly and go through a *lot* of different habitat types, especially considering the space they’re working with. You and your kids will learn so much, and it’s delightful to just get outside. Also, the programs are where it’s AT. Get your birdwatching and papermaking on sometime, they have a really knowledgeable staff. Also, there *is* more to the building. It’s mostly offices in the back beyond the gift shop…er, gift corner. But they have a lot more taxidermied animals. If you’re into that sort of thing.

    • Tina, yeah we saw the little bookstore and then the rest are just conference rooms. I do want to go back for the trails though. Hopefully it’ll warm up soon! I have heard good things about their programs for kids. I want to take my 2year old. Thanks for your input. Always helpful! Pan

  2. Oh also, I did purchase the best book at their gift “corner”. It details all the rivers in Missouri, which will be perfect for us and our kayak adventures. I was stoked to come across that.

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