Hite Prairie Conservation Area

Driving Directions

From Versailles (Highway 5/52 junction), take Highway 52 west 0.25 mile, then Fairgrounds Road south 0.50 mile.


This prairie is noted for its wildflowers.

About This Area

The once vast prairies that covered as much as 15,000,000 acres of Missouri had diminished to just a few hundred thousand acres by the mid-1970’s.  The prairies inherited by the early settlers of Missouri made ideal places for growing crops and grazing livestock.  After approximately 150 years of settlement the still functioning parcels of prairie that remained were usually isolated and relatively small.  Conservation organizations such as the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Missouri Prairie Foundation, Missouri Department of Natural Resources and The Nature Conservancy began to recognize the value in purchasing and managing these remaining prairie pieces for future generations to enjoy.

The Missouri Department of Conservation purchased the Hite Prairie Conservation Area from the Hite family in 1980.  The Hite family managed about 80 acres of the 103 total as a hay pasture.  As with the majority of the prairies purchased in the 1960’s – 1990’s, it was the dedication of those acres to continual hay production that effectively preserved them.  Prairies can deal with annual haying and largely maintain their diverse suite of plant and animal species (high quality prairies can have over 300 different species of plants present).  Prairies can’t deal well with conversion to agriculture or the introduction of exotic species in conjunction with continual grazing, as either practice can cause a rapid loss of native species from the site.

Hite Prairie exists today as one of the easternmost fragments of the formerly quite vast Osage Plains prairies that covered the majority of the landscape to the west.  The prairie is managed primarily with prescribed fires and some additional efforts to control woody growth and exotic species. Although Greater Prairie Chickens have been gone from the site since the mid-1990’s the area still supports over 150 native plant species and prairie animals such as the Regal Fritillary butterfly, Henslow’s Sparrows and Northern Crawfish Frogs.

General Information




Owned by MDC

(Activity Explanations)
(Population Definition)
Bird Watching  Watch for prairie birds. Get the Audubon Society of Missouri Conservation Area Bird List.  
Highlighted Activities  Viewing of prairie wildflowers from April through September. 
Hiking  No designated trails 
Hunting-Deer Fair population. Deer regulations are subject to annual changes. Please refer to the Fall Deer and Turkey Booklet for current regulations.  
Hunting-Dove Fair population.    
Hunting-Quail Fair population.  
Hunting-Rabbit Fair population. shotgun only, no single projectiles allowed  

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Conservation Department Facilities
Facility Item Name Count Comments
Parking Lot    

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Feature Item Name Count Size Comments
Named Prairie Hite Prairie 103.00 acres Native tallgrass prairie. 

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Land Cover Types
Land Type Acres Comments
Native Prairie 103.02  
Total Area Acres:103.02 

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Designated Trails
Trail Name Trail Type Length
No Designated Trails

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Shooting Range General Information

This area has no shooting ranges.

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