Coronavirus (COVID-19) Notice
Although most refuge lands and outdoor spaces have remained open for the public to enjoy, we encourage you to:

  • Check local conditions on this website and call ahead for current information
  • Follow current CDC safe practices by maintaining a safe distance between yourself and other groups
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
  • Most importantly, stay home if you feel sick


  • Prairie Learning and Visitor Center

    Visitor Center Closed

    As a public health precaution, the prairie learning center is closed until further notice. Trails and the auto tour remain open and free.

  • Environmental Education

    2020 Field Trip Registration

    As a public health precaution, field trip registration is temporarily closed until further notice. The below link will reopen in the future.

    Registration Form

  • Ding Darling Day

    What's Happening in October?

    In October, savanna leaves and prairie grasses change color, and seed collecting is in full swing!

    Seasons of the Refuge

  • MLK JR- Seed Cleaning

    Indoor Nature Activities

    Looking for some indoor nature activities? Look no further!

    Indoor nature activities


Visitor Center Closed

annual photo contest

As a public health precaution, the prairie learning center is closed until further notice. Trails and the auto tour remain open and free.

Annual Photo Contest

2019 Photo Contest - Best of Show by Teresa Carter - Cropped

Get your best Refuge photos ready for our annual contest! This contest is sponsored by the Friends of Neal Smith NWR and the Refuge. Entries must be received by October 1st, 2020. The 2019 Best of Show winner was Teresa Carter.

Contest Rules and Entry Forms

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 Temporarily Unavailable

Recreation passes

Passes are temporarily unavailable while the visitor center is closed. 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 open year-round. The Visitor Center is open every day from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., except in the winter. Winter hours, from December 1 to February 28,are Monday to Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., being closed on Sundays. The Refuge is open on Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day and is closed all other Federal holidays. A five-mile auto tour through the bison/elk enclosure and four trails are open daily, dawn to dusk. All other roads through the Refuge are open from dawn to dusk. Maps are available in the Visitor Center.

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