About the Refuge

Great Salt Flats view / Jenny Davis ©

Designated as the "largest such saline flat in the central lowlands of North America," the 11,200- acre salt flat of Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge is essential to wildlife.


For millennia, the salt plains were the scenes of Native American gatherings, providing salt and important hunting grounds. Found nowhere else for hundreds of miles around, the salt plains provided essential shelter, foraging, and breeding habitat attracting multitudes of migrating waterfowl, breeding birds, and big game such as bison and deer. Today, this unique assemblage of habitat surrounded by a patchwork of farmlands continues to be a vital migratory stopover and breeding grounds for birds and a protected area for wildlife.

The entire refuge is designated as critical whooping crane habitat for use during the fall and spring migrations of America’s tallest bird. The refuge has also been designated as an Important Bird Area and a member of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network.

Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1930 as a refuge and breeding ground for birds and for use as a sanctuary for migratory birds. The 32,197-acre refuge is part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, a national network of lands and waters managed for the benefit of wildlife and you.