U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service logo A Unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System
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Neal Smith
National Wildlife Refuge

bison calf nursing from cow
9981 Pacific Street
Prairie City, IA   50228
E-mail: nealsmith@fws.gov
Phone Number: 515-994-3400
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Bison have been re-introduced to the refuge as part of the effort to restore the tallgrass prairie ecosystem.
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  Recreation and Education Opportunities

Environmental Education
Structured environmental education programs are available for schools, universities, and professional groups. Teacher workshops are held to familiarize schools with the Project Bluestem Curriculum, which provides environmental education programs and activities for visiting teachers, refuge employees, and volunteers.

Portions of the refuge are open to hunting of upland game birds, white-tailed deer, and small game. Special regulations apply. Please contact the refuge headquarters for specific rules and information.

Formal and informal interpretive programs are offered through ranger-led programs as well as permanent and temporary displays located in the exhibit hall. The exhibits depict the native plant and animal communities that existed in central Iowa prior to Euro/American settlement; the landscape changes since the 1840s; and the present focus on restoration, reconstruction, and management of the tallgrass prairie/oak savanna ecosystems. The Tallgrass Trail is paved surface and includes a half-mile universally accessible overlook loop with interpretive reading rail points.

Wildlife Observation
The 4.5-mile auto tour through the bison/elk enclosure allows visitors in cars and buses an opportunity to see the large animals up close. The road is maintained and open year-round. For safety's sake, visitors are required to stay on the road and in their vehicles.

Three nature trails are available on the refuge. The Tallgrass Trail is paved surface and includes a half-mile universally accessible overlook loop with interpretive reading rail points. The two-mile loop weaves its way through portions of the reconstructed and remnant prairies. Located away from the Prairie Learning Center is the Savanna Trail. It is one-half mile of gravel- and woodchip-surfaced walkway that traverses a mix of savanna and woodland trees through a savanna remnant. The Basswood Trail is one-half mile of natural surface walkway through remnant woodlands that transcend to savanna and prairie borders.

Refuge Headquarters -- Open 8:00 am to 4:30 pm Monday - Friday. Visitor Center -- Open 9:00 am to 4:00 pm Monday - Saturday; noon to 5:00 pm Sunday (Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day). Wildlife Drive/Nature Trails -- Open daily from sunrise to sunset (year-round).

Entrance Fees
There is no entrance fee.

- Refuge Profile Page -