Coronavirus (COVID-19) Notice
Although most refuge lands and outdoor spaces have remained open for the public to enjoy, we ask that you recreate responsibly.

  • Check alerts and local conditions on this website and call ahead for current information. Operations vary based on local public health conditions.
  • Consistent with CDC recommendations, all visitors (age 2 and older), who are fully vaccinated are required to wear a mask inside of federal buildings in areas of substantial or high community transmission.. All visitors who are not fully vaccinated must continue to wear masks indoors and in crowded outdoor spaces.
  • Most importantly, stay home if you feel sick and continue to watch for symptoms of COVID-19 and follow CDC guidance on how to protect yourself and others.


  • Hunters on the prairie

    New Land Acquisition

    128 new acres are now open for public use, including hunting. The parcels are Van Ryswyk South (41 acres) and Rothinghouse East (87 acres).

    Map of the new parcels

  • visitor_center

    Partial Visitor Center Reopening

    Effective July 20th, the visitor center will reopen Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm at 25% capacity (50 visitors)

  • Bison and Calf 216

    Virtual Refuge Tour

    Interested in a virtual tour of the refuge? Check out our OnCell website for the refuge's guided Auto Tour, or dial (515) 219-4670 to begin.

    View the website

  • Fall on the prairie

    What's Happening in November?

    In November, the prairie turns rust-colored, seeds are abundant and the elk are easier to spot.

    Seasons of the Refuge


Partial Visitor Center Reopening

annual photo contest

Effective July 20th, the visitor center will reopen Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm at 25% capacity (50 visitors at a time). Face masks and social distancing are required. Please continue to follow this website for additional information, as this is an ongoing development.

Iowa Junior Duck Stamp Program


The Junior Duck Stamp Program uses art and science to teach students in grades K-12 the value of wetlands and the waterfowl that use them. Judging of Iowa entries will be held in March with an award ceremony for all 100 winners in April. Iowa entries must be postmarked by March 15.

Learn more

Recreation Passes Available

Recreation passes

Passes are available at the visitor center during open weekday hours. To purchase a pass online, please visit the USGS store website linked below.

Purchase passes online
Visit the Refuge

Prairie Learning and Visitor Center

About the refuge

The Prairie Learning and Visitor Center, which houses an exhibit area, movie theater, classrooms and the Prairie Point Nature Store, operated by the Friends of Neal Smith NWR is currently open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm.

About the NWRS

National Wildlife Refuge System


The National Wildlife Refuge System, within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, manages a national network of lands and waters set aside to conserve America's fish, wildlife, and plants.

Learn more about the NWRS