Coronavirus (COVID-19) Notice
During the current public health emergency, whenever possible, outdoor recreation sites at national wildlife refuges and national fish hatcheries will remain open to the public. Visitor Centers and other facilities, however, may be closed. Scheduled events may be cancelled. Please follow public health guidelines and avoid congregating. For more information: FWS Coronavirus Response page and call for local conditions.


  • Prairie Learning and Visitor Center

    Visitor Center Closed

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

  • Environmental Education

    2020 Field Trip Registration

    Registration for 2020 Spring and Summer field trips is now open. Click on the link below.

    Registration Form

  • Redwinged Blackbird on entry sign

    What's Happening in March?

    March welcomes hints of spring on the prairie - the return of migratory birds, melting snow and stirring animals.

    Seasons of the Refuge

  • Bison and Calf 216

    Banking on Nature Report

    Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge brings more to you than watchable wildlife, it's good for the economy!

    Read more about Banking on Nature here.


Visitor Center Closed

annual photo contest

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

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

Recreation passes

America the Beautiful - National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Passes are available at the Visitor Center Monday - Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Accepted payments are cash or check. Credit or debit cards may not be used for payment.

Learn more
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