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Hidden bee rocks turn St. Louis greenways into an outdoor scavenger hunt

A Greenway Quest 2023 hand painted bee rock
Great Rivers Greenway
250 hand-painted rocks are hidden at City Museum and along all of St. Louis’ greenways for Greenway Quest 2023.

For the next couple of weeks, people who walk, run or bike along Great Rivers Greenway trails in the St. Louis region will qualify for prizes if they find — and register — one of 250 hidden, hand-painted bee rocks. The black-and-yellow striped stones are part of Greenway Quest, a scavenger hunt created by Great Rivers Greenway and City Museum to inspire whimsical exploration of the outdoors.

The focus on bees is due to the insects’ local variety and distinction.

“We have over 80 different species of bees coming through our area, one of the most diverse populations of bees in the entire world,” said Dallas Adams, communications manager at Great Rivers Greenway.

She added that animal themes help people understand trails beyond the paths they tread. Last year’s Greenway Quest rocks were painted like turtles, which migrate through St. Louis in the summer.

“The other part is just to allow people a chance to know there is wildlife in the greenways, and we've built that as a part of [them],” Adams said.

Getting people outdoors to find the bee rocks reflects the bigger-picture work that Great Rivers Greenway aims to do. There are currently 135 miles of completed trails. To get to its ultimate goal of 600 miles, Adams said, the agency will continue community engagement work as “one of the most important parts of our build process.”

“From the very beginning, even when we are thinking that we want to bring a greenway to a part of the region, we automatically loop in the community members. … There's both the community engagement process that's more formal, looking at qualitative and quantitative data,” said Adams. “But then there's also more on our side, on the communication side, looking at social media and seeing how people react to things. … We are always talking with the community, and we love to hear from people.”

As to the rest of this year’s bee-themed Greenway quest, Adams shared a few places hidden bee rocks are yet to be found: the Mississippi Greenway down by the St. Louis Riverfront and Laclede’s Landing by the Arch, as well as much of south St. Louis County, including the Meramec Greenway.

“We tried to hide them in places where you could park and get out of the car to make it really easy, especially for families with kids, to just pop out and go and explore,” Adams said. “When you do find one of our hand-painted bees, you will find a number and instructions to log [it] so we can enter you into the prize package drawing.”

Drawing prizes include tickets to the City Museum, swag and other prizes from local vendors.

Related Event 
What: Greenway Quest
When: Aug. 7 through mid-September
Where: Great Rivers Greenway trails (St. Louis, St. Louis County and St. Charles County) and City Museum

For the full conversation with Dallas Adams and to learn more about completed and ongoing greenway projects that will get the St. Louis greenways mileage sum closer to its 600-mile goal, listen to the full St. Louis on the Air conversation on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast, Stitcher, or by clicking the play button below.

Dallas Adams joins "St. Louis on the Air"

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski, Elaine Cha and Alex Heuer. Ulaa Kuziez is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr. Send questions and comments about this story to talk@stlpr.org

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Elaine Cha is the host/producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.