Public Safety Concerns Result in Restrictions on Refuge Lands

Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge is experiencing extreme heat with temperatures in excess of 100 degrees, which is expected to continue. These weather conditions, coupled with the rocky and rugged terrain of the Refuge, pose safety hazards for visitors and for Refuge and other emergency response personnel called upon for search and rescue operations during the extreme heat.

To reduce potential safety hazards associated with heat related illnesses or injuries, the Refuge is implementing the following Emergency Closure Order to restrict recreational activities during extreme temperatures. We are requesting the public’s cooperation in implementing this order:

  • Hiking is permitted from sunrise until 10 a.m. ONLY.
  • All visitors must exit the trails and the Mt. Scott Roadway no later than 10 a.m.
  • After 10 a.m., the Refuge will be closed to hiking, except in established picnic areas and campgrounds.

The Refuge roads will remain open to motorized vehicles and bicycles for wildlife observation and photography. Doris Campground, fishing and picnicking will not be impacted, but backcountry camping will not be allowed. The Visitor Center (located near the intersection of Highway 49 and Highway 115) is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and can provide alternative suggestions to hiking or camping.

Refuge regulations allow the authority to restrict uses on refuge lands “…in the event of a threat or emergency endangering the health and safety of the public or property…”  

A few safety tips to remember: bring plenty of water, pay attention to weather forecasts, wear loose clothing that is light in color, including a cap or hat, and limit the amount of time you spend outdoors in extreme temperatures.

The safety of visitors, staff and first responders is our highest priority. We apologize for any inconvenience the Emergency Closure Order may cause.

Worn by time and nature, the Wichita Mountains loom large above the prairie in southwest Oklahoma—a lasting refuge for wildlife. Situated just outside the Lawton/Ft. Sill area, Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge preserves approximately 60,000 acres of mixed grass prairie, ancient granite mountains, and fresh water lakes and streams for the benefit of wildlife and the American people. Best known for its roaming herds of bison, longhorn, and Rocky Mountain elk, Wichita Mountains also offers quality opportunities for wildlife dependent recreation including fishing, bird watching, wildlife photography, hiking, camping, and kayaking.

Visit Us

An enchanting landscape awaits you in southwestern Oklahoma at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. Worn by time and nature, the Wichita Mountains loom large above the prairie —a lasting refuge for wildlife. Best known for its roaming herds of bison, longhorn, and Rocky Mountain elk, Wichita Mountains also offers quality opportunities for wildlife dependent recreation.

Location and Contact Information

      About Us

      Worn by time and nature, the Wichita Mountains loom large above the prairie in southwest Oklahoma—a lasting refuge for wildlife. Situated just outside the Lawton/Ft. Sill area, Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge preserves approximately 60,000 acres of mixed grass prairie, ancient granite mountains, and fresh water lakes and streams for the benefit of wildlife and the American people. Best known for its roaming herds of bison, longhorn, and Rocky Mountain elk, Wichita Mountains also offers quality opportunities for wildlife dependent recreation including fishing, bird watching, wildlife photography, hiking, camping, and kayaking. 

      What We Do

      The National Wildlife Refuge System is a series of lands and waters owned and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Wildlife conservation is at the heart of the refuge system. It drives everything we do from the purpose a refuge is established, to the recreational activities offered there, to the resource management tools we use. Selecting the right tools helps us ensure the survival of local plants and animals and helps fulfill the purpose of the refuge. The wildlife and habitats of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge are managed using prescribed fire, grazing management,  invasive species invasive species
      An invasive species is any plant or animal that has spread or been introduced into a new area where they are, or could, cause harm to the environment, economy, or human, animal, or plant health. Their unwelcome presence can destroy ecosystems and cost millions of dollars.

      Learn more about invasive species
      control, reservoir management, fish stocking, public use management, Wilderness management, and controlled hunts to manage wildlife populations. 

      Our Species

      Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge is home to a whole host of animals—from large animals like the American bison to tiny prairie dogs and colorful “Mountain Boomer” lizards. The Refuge is also a great place for over 275 species birds to nest, feed, or rest during migration.