1Thing: Plugging Into Nature

June 27, 2018

Modern life seems to demand more of our attention than ever before, with constant updates from devices and social media intruding into every minute of our lives. One of the easiest and most beneficial ways to unplug is by going back to nature. Nature bathing is 1Thing that is proven to reduce stress levels and aid mental health, but it doesn't involve donning a bathing suit or jumping into water. Nature bathing, also known as nature therapy, is all about getting away from the noise and distractions of modern life by surrounding yourself with nature. Besides mental benefits there are actual physical results from surrounding yourself with nature: reduced levels of stress hormones, lowered blood pressure, as well as a lowered heart rate. Fortunately the Kansas City area is rich with conservation areas, hiking trails, and wildlife sanctuaries. Some great spots for nature immersion across the metro area include:

Swope Park:  Kansas City’s largest park, consisting of 1,805 acres of land. The Kansas City Zoo is located within Swope Park. Other attractions include: Lakeside Nature Center, The Battle of Westport Museum & Visitor Center, The Beanstalk Children’s Garden

Ernie Miller Park & Nature Center:  Ernie Miller Park & Nature Center offers three miles of hiking trails amongst 116 acres featuring diverse habitats. The Nature Center has a new exhibit gallery featuring live animal displays and interactive exhibits.

Cedar Lake Park:  Located on Lone Elm Road between 151st Street and 159th Street, Cedar Lake is a 67 acre lake surrounded by a 57 acre community park.

Mill Creek Streamway Park:  Stretching through Shawnee, Lenexa, and Olathe, Mill Creek Streamway Park features approximately 14 miles of pedestrian and biking trails, as well as three miles of equestrain trails. 

Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Garden:  The 300 acre Arboretum and Botanical Gardens features 13 gardens and 180 acres of prairie. Trails include the 17 miles Indian Creek Bike and Hike Trail, with a connecting link towards the Tomahawk Creek Trail. Other attractions include the Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead.

Fleming Park:  Encompassing Blue Springs Lake and Lake Jacomo, Fleming Park covers more than 7,800 acres of recreational parkland. There are full service marinas, public campgrounds, fishing docks, and nature trails.

Parkville Nature Sanctuary: A 117 acre nature area with three miles of hiking trails, this wildlife preserve has a no pets policy to attract songbirds, deer, small mammals, turtles, and other wildlife.

Powell Gardens:  A 970 acre botanical garden features a nature trail, interesting architecture, display gardens, and the Heartland Harvest Garden edible landscape.

The Anita B Gorman Conservation Discovery Center:  8 acres of gardens, walkways, and wildlife. Also features Sycamore Station natural play area and a building featuring energy efficiency exhibits.

Lipton Conservation Area: Lipton Conservation area adjoins Santa Fe Park in Independence MO and features a 1/2 mile graveled hiking trail.

Maple Woods Nature Area:  An 18 acre nature area in the Gladstone area, Maple Woods Nature area is an old growth forest classified as a National Natural Landmark.

Burr Oak Woods Conservation Area:  A 1,071 acre conservation area featuring the first nature center built in Missouri, updated in 2016, Burr Oak Woods has hiking trails has forested hillsides, restored prairies, and limestone outcrops.