J.T. Nickel Family Nature & Wildlife Preserve

J.T. Nickel Family Nature & Wildlife Preserve
NE of town
Phone: 918-456-7601

The J.T. Nickel Family Nature & Wildlife Preserve is the largest privately protected conservation area in the Ozarks. The preserve was formed in 2000 as the result of a land gift from the John Nickel family and is owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy. Adjoining the Illinois River in eastern Oklahoma, the preserve encompasses portions of four Ozark stream watersheds, and is dominated by pine and oak forest, as well as significant areas of oak savanna and Tallgrass prairie.

The preserve is particularly unique for its extensive, high quality rocky glade communities and pristine water quality. Self-guided trail information is available at the preserve headquarters. Spring-fed creeks meander amid a rugged topography of steep slopes and narrow valleys harboring a mosaic of oak-hickory forest, lofty pine woodland, and a diverse mix of savanna, shrub land and prairie.

The preserve provides optimal habitat for a suite of uncommon breeding bird species, including some whose survival requires large blocks of intact habitat. The Nature Conservancy has introduced elk, which have been absent from the Ozarks for more than 150 years. White-tailed deer, coyotes, bobcats and many small mammals are also common on the preserve. Black bears also, after being absent from the Ozarks for over a century, now make their home on the preserve.

There are three self-guided nature trails that are open to the public during daylight hours every day. Access to other areas of the preserve may be arranged by appointment with the preserve manager. There are no facilities other than the headquarters building, which is open on weekdays.

Please observe the following guidelines when visiting:

  - Stay on the trail. Don't collect plants, insects or other species or disturb soil, rocks, artifacts or scientific research markers.

  - No dogs. Preserves harbor ground-nesting birds and other wildlife that are extremely sensitive to disturbance.

  - No bicycles or motorized vehicles. Native plants and research sites are easily trampled.

  - No hunting, camping or campfires.

  - For groups of 10 or more, please contact the field office before visiting the preserve (a volunteer naturalist guide may be available).

  - Please do not leave behind trash. Bring a bag and carry it out.

Find Nearby
General Information: Free admission
On-site Activities: Hiking, Watchable Wildlife
Sunday: 7:00 am - 7:00 pm
Monday: 7:00 am - 7:00 pm
Tuesday: 7:00 am - 7:00 pm
Wednesday: 7:00 am - 7:00 pm
Thursday: 7:00 am - 7:00 pm
Friday: 7:00 am - 7:00 pm
Saturday: 7:00 am - 7:00 pm
Open from dawn until dusk.
The headquarters building is open during regular business hours on weekdays.
There is no cost for admittance. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the pricing listed above, prices are subject to change without notice.
From the intersection of Hwys 82 and 51, follow Hwy 51 east about 2 miles to Hwy 10 (Scenic 10). Turn north on Hwy 10 and go 10 miles to 569 Rd., approximately half a mile after Peyton’s Place (float resort). If you pass Eagle Bluff Resort, you have gone too far. Turn right on 569 Rd. and cross Comb’s bridge over the river. Go approximately 1 mile and stay to the right at the split in the road. Continue following 569 Rd. for about half mile and turn left onto E685 Rd. Follow the county road 685 east to cross through the preserve (about 6 miles to the Preserve Headquarters on the left.)