About Danielle Huddleston Photography:

I am a wife, homeschool mom, a hiker, and a photographer living in Oklahoma. I love beautiful light and being in the woods. I share what I love on this blog, be they trails, pictures, or homschooling curriculum. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Archive: ‘Wildlife Preserve/Reserve’

    Digging for crystals at the Salt Plains ~Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge

    Monday, June 19th, 2017


    You can dig for selenite crystals at the Salt Plains during the summer!

    More info on crystal digging on their site, here.

    Although we have visited the area several times, this was our first time digging.


    One of these days I will get to watch a sunrise or sunset here.

    It is on my “bucket list”.

    I am not organized enough to write it down, I just keep telling myself someday.


    I was not sure before we got there if the kids would actually enjoy doing this but they were crazy about it!

    I should have guessed.

    They think looking for rocks in our yard is exciting.


    They kept yelling “we’re rich!!!!”

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    You will get muddy so be prepared.

    And it was crazy windy!!!!


    Shortly after I took this pic Little Bit smeared the mud all over her legs…




    She was super proud of how muddy she was, until it started drying…

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    You will need a shovel and plenty of sunscreen!

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    There are several overlooks around the refuge.

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    We went on the wildlife drive in the refuge and I was surprised when we did see quite a few egrets.

    Usually we like to go on these at dawn and dusk since that is when more animals are out and about.

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    They have some easy hikes that you can go on in the refuge also.

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    We played at the beach in the Salt Plains State Park also.

    It has a really nice sandy beach but the waves were pretty intense and the water was very dirty looking.

    Not sure if it was windier than normal or not.

    I did not take my camera swimming with us so not pics from that except on my instagram account.

    I did take my gopro so maybe I can put a video together.


    I saw this pretty lake on our way to the salt plains and wanted to be sure to stop and take pics on the way home.


    Nick stayed in the vehicle with the kids and I walked down to a boat ramp to take pics.


    It was so peaceful after so many hours in the vehicle with 5 kids.

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    If you have kids that like to treasure hunt than you should check out crystal digging at the Salt Plains!

    It was so much fun and a lot easier than I thought!

    Heron Pond Nature Preserve~Cache River State Natural Area, Illinois

    Monday, June 5th, 2017



    Heron Pond Nature Preserve is really close to Shawnee National Forest.


    This is the Heron Pond Trail.


    It felt a little bit longer than the map said to get to the boardwalk.

    But it was the toddlers nap time so that might have contributed to that feeling…


    Nick ended up having to stay at the van with Little Bit and I took the older kids to the boardwalk.

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    Found it!

    I was just about to turn around when we saw it!

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    I am so glad we kept going because it was beautiful!


    I was really wishing for a wide angle lens!

    The trees were huge!

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    You could see a bunch of little trails in the duckweed.

    We read later that they were snakes, turtles and such.

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    It looks like you can just walk right on top of it.

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    I took a picture of this honeysuckle because the previous day’s drive through Shawnee National Forest was filled with the amazing smell of it.

    And we were stopped to change a flat tire…


    We did a small portion of the lookout point trail.

    This is a great trail for when mosquitoes are bad.

    It is right next to a cliff so it is really open and breezy but shaded.

    I am always on the lookout for trails like this in Oklahoma for summer time hikes!

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    My oldest took some pics.

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    Siblings get the cutest smiles for pics.


    This second boardwalk was super easy to get to.

    It is right off Illinois Route 37.


    Such cool trees.


    There are a lot of trails here although we only did a few.

    You could spend a long time exploring.

    Shaw Nature Reserve, MO

    Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

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    While very beautiful and really close to Interstate 40, most of the trails are not accessible except by foot on weekends.

    The main road that goes through the Reserve is closed Friday-Sunday to vehicles.

    I can’t find any information about this on their website but we were told that was the case and they had the road closed when we were there on a Friday.


    I thought this rain garden idea was interesting.


    The garden at Bascom House was beautiful.

    I would like to go again when all the trails are accessible or we are able to hike to the other trails.

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    Beautiful stop right outside St. Louis.

    Find more information at their website, here.