Valley View Glades Natural Area is in central Jefferson County. The 225-acre Valley View Glades area is part of a large complex of glades starting just east of the Big River, near Morse Mill and extending eastward and beyond Hillsboro and Desoto, to Festus, then south into Ste. Genevieve County. This large complex of glades occurs in a band two to five miles wide. These glades are principally on Jefferson City-Cotter dolomite of Ordivician age.
A similar concentration of glades occurs in southern Missouri in the White River Hills region. In this region the glades typically occur on steep slopes of hills, often extending to the tops of knobs, forming "balds."
The Jefferson County glades are commonly found on south and southwest-facing slopes with forested ridges and are characterized by thin soil and bedrock at or near the surface. Water saturates the ground in winter and spring, but soils become droughty in summer and fall. These glades have been only lightly disturbed by human activity.
The plants and animals here are similar to what were here at the time of settlement. The glades are dominated by little bluestem, Indian grass, big bluestem and prairie dropseed. Non-grass species, although not as dominant as the grasses, provide good wildlife food and add beautiful color to the glades during seasonal peaks of blooming.
These glade communities are maintained by periodic prescribed fire and cedar removal.
The Fremont's leather flower, one of the glades most interesting plants, occurs only in this part of Missouri. Small pockets of dry upland forest dominated by blackjack oak are also established here. Other trees and shrubs found on the glades include eastern red cedar, post oak, flowering dogwood and fragrant sumac. The forested portions of the area occur on less than optimal growing sites. The thin, rocky soil produces dwarfed, often short-lived trees. However, the relatively undisturbed condition of this forest type is important for scientific, educational and wildlife reasons. This forest is one of the least disturbed of its type in this region.
The small intermittent streams, which drain the glades add diversity to the area. For such a small area, remarkable examples exist of stream ledges, waterfalls, overhangs, and pools.
Many kinds of snakes and lizards as well as larger animals, such as deer and turkey, live on this area.