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


Features

  • White Pelicans / USFWS

    Life on the Salt

    The salt flats may be devoid of vegetation but they are rich in wildlife. While some birds nest here, others feed on salt brine flies.

    Wildlife & Habitat

  • Hourglass selenite crystal / John Betts ©

    Unique to the Refuge

    Selenite crystals can grow the length of a pencil and weigh up to 38 pounds. Dig deep and find one!

    Digging for Crystals

  • Presentation for students / USFWS

    Enjoy, Explore, Learn

    Educators – bring your indoor classroom outside. The refuge is a great place to learn about science, math, art, history and more.

  • Turtle floating / Jenny and Oliver Davis ©

    For Wildlife & You

    National Wildlife Refuges are managed for wildlife and habitat and to ensure future generations will always have wild places to explore!

    Visitor Activities

News

COVID-19

In keeping with guidance from the White House and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and acting out of an abundance of caution, we are temporarily suspending operations of the Visitor Center at the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge. We are committed to doing our part to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to ensure the health and safety of our employees, volunteers, and you--our friends and neighbors. Therefore, planned Refuge events and programs may not take place as scheduled. Refuge lands, including nature trails and outdoor recreational activities, remain open and accessible to the public. Please visit refuge information kiosks or brochure boxes for vistor information and refuge maps. We apologize for any inconvenience and will provide updates as they become available.

Public Notice

Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge seeks public comments on a Draft Proposal to add Mergansers to the authorized hunting list of waterfowl to take during Oklahoma hunting seasons.

Merganser Public Notice

Selenite Crystals

Crystal_Digging

April 1 through October 15 the crystal digging area at the refuge will be open for visitors. It is open daily, from sunrise to sunset, and it is free. Bring the family out to the refuge and harvest your own selenite crystals (the state crystal of Oklahoma) and create memories that will last a lifetime. Address to the digging area gate is: 66003 Garvin Road, Cherokee, OK

Crystal Digging
Featured Stories

Did You Know?

Western snowy plover mother and chick / USFWS

Snowy plovers nest on the refuge’s salt flats where the female uses pebbles and skeletons of invertebrates to line the nest and vegetation to keep the eggs warm. Chicks are very independent and will leave the nest within hours of hatching. Parents train the young to watch for predators and signal them to lie flat on the ground when danger is near. The snowy plover’s favorite meal is succulent brine flies found in the salt lake. These tiny bugs are nutrient-rich and help quench the bird’s thirst. When the flies dive into the salty waters, a bubble forms around them that provides oxygen for up to 15 minutes. As the flies swim below, the snowy plover wait along the shore line ready to catch a meal when the flies are forced to surface.

Featured Stories

History of Conservation

President Theodore Roosevelt 150 x 115

In 1903 President Theodore Roosevelt established the Pelican Island Bird Reservation, the first of 53 federal reserves he would create during his time in office and the roots of what is today known as the National Wildlife Refuge System. The 26th president was a dedicated naturalist throughout his life and is considered by many to have been the country’s “Conservationist President.”

History of the Refuge System

About the NWRS

National Wildlife Refuge System

NWRS Logo

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