For Educators

Nine yellow school buses parked in a row at a Bison Range event. Photo by NBR/USFWS

The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System is to preserve a national network of lands and waters for the conservation and management of fish, wildlife and plant resources of the United States for the benefit of present and future generations. By educating students and their teachers, we will be influencing the future stewards of our public lands. To encourage use of the Refuge by young people, fees are waived for youth and educational groups.

  • Environmental Education Study Areas

    Educators and children on field trip in Day Use Area.  Photo by Pat Jamieson/USFWS

    Students and teachers are welcome to use these areas for environmental studies. The accessible Nature Trail is located by the Day Use Area and travels near Mission Creek and by some ponds that are excellent for riparian and wetland studies. The Grassland Trail is located close by the Visitor Center. Equipment, activity packets and field guides are available for use by teachers at these areas with advanced reservations. 

  • Environmental Education Campsite

    Environmental Education Pond with Trumpeter Swans on nest.  Photo by Pat Jamieson/USFWS

    This campsite is available to educational groups for the purpose of pursuing outdoor classroom activities. Restrooms and drinking water are not available on site, but can be found in the picnic area approximately 1/4 mile west. A special use permit is required and the campsite must be reserved in advance for overnight use.

  • Self-Guided Auto Tours

    Looking towards Red Sleep Mountain Drive from start of West Loop Drive. Photo by Pat Jamieson/USFWS

    These drives are open to school groups as well as the general public. During the winter season (late October to mid-May), the Winter Drive is open. This is a 10-mile loop along a gravel road in the flats which takes about 30-45 minutes. During other times, the shorter tours (West Loop and Prairie Drive) are accessible to all vehicles and takes about 20 minutes. Both these drives are open to larger vehicles, such as school buses, although the only large turnaround along the Winter Drive is at the end of the 5 miles.

    CAUTION: The longer Red Sleep Mountain Drive is a 19-mile, one-way gravel road over the top. It gains 2,000 feet in elevation, has 10% grades and takes about 2 hours. We allow buses on this drive but educators should check with their school policies to determine if it is permissible and check with their bus company for capabilities of bus and drivers. School buses must be under 30ft to go on Red Sleep Mountain Drive.