Plan Your Visit

Swallowtail butterfly on ironweed

Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, just 20 miles east of Des Moines and 9 miles south of Interstate 80, feels like a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city. We welcome you to come enjoy our native Iowa habitats, for an hour or a day.

Address and Contact Information

Please note that GPS units and online mapping services do not always give accurate directions to the refuge.  If you have questions about how to get here from a specific location, please give us a call.

P.O. Box 399 
9981 Pacific St.
Prairie City, IA 50228 


Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 10:00 am - 2:00 pm

America the Beautiful Passes

Visitors can purchase a series of passes covering the entrance and standard amenity fees charged for using other federal lands - including other national wildlife refuges that do charge fees - in our Visitor Center. These include the America the Beautiful - the National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Pass - Senior Lifetime, Senior Annual, Access, Annual and Fourth Grade Passes. Learn more about the America the Beautiful passes.

Note: passes are not available for purchase when the visitor center is closed. To purchase a pass online, please visit the USGS store website.

Passes are available for purchase in the Visitor Center during open weekday hours. They are not available on weekends or on Federal holidays. Payment is accepted by cash or check only. Credit or debit cards cannot be used for payment.

Know Before You Go

Central Iowa weather varies widely throughout our four seasons, and the tallgrass prairie offers little protection from the elements. Visitors intending to hike or snowshoe should be prepared for the weather. In summer, bring sunscreen, hat, insect repellent and drinking water. In winter, bring warm clothes, dress in layers, use an outer layer that protects from the wind, and bring drinking water. On sunny days (even with snow on the ground), don’t forget your sunscreen.

Visitors taking the auto tour are required to stay in their vehicle and on the road while inside the bison/elk enclosure. Remember, bison and elk are wild animals.