Nature's calling! The Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge is a beautiful place to bring the whole family. Kids especially will love the wild open outdoors, and getting up close to all the amazing wildlife - including bison and elk.
Families can visit any day from dawn right through to dusk. You can drive through 700 acres of enclosed refuge space and witness elk and bison. Start your day off at the Visitor Center, where you can visit the bookstore, and exhibit area, as well and the theater.
Got your hiking boots on? Good! Because there are miles of trails all of which radiate from the Center. From there, you can get that drive on and check out the wildlife! There are also other outdoor activities to keep your family entertained throughout the day.
Biking, birding, mushrooming, and wildlife watching are just some of the other activities that you can enjoy! From white-tailed deer, to fox squirrels and even the Indiana bat - all are some of the wildlife that you might be bale to spot.
Many of the mammal species create cozy burrows on the Refuge - how many burrows can you find? They often can be seen along the gravel roads and around the Visitor Center.
Wood Chucks, foxes, badgers and coyotes also dig burrows around the area but because they live in burrows, you will be lucky to see them - but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try!
Across the year the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge puts on certain events, so make sure you keep an eye out so you don't miss out! From photography hikes to seasonal activities, they are often fun for the family!
Better make it down soon - the bison are waiting for you!
If you do want to support the national refuge, then you can become a member!
Bring your own lunch and enjoy it out on the prairies - it's a beautiful experience and one where you should enjoy lunch out with the bison in your car, or our near the Visitor Center
Healthy Eating Always best to keep healthy snacks and water on hand - you never know when you need that extra energy!
The refuge is 25 minutes east of Des Moines, just nine miles south of I-80. On Hwy 163, take exit 18 then immediately right. Follow signed along paved entrance.
The NSNWR staff love providing environmental education programs for schools and groups. They have field trips for partner school and non-partner schools. Get in contact!
The tour is driving, so as long as you are able to get in your car you will be fine!
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Trails and auto tour - dawn to dusk. Visitor Center Mon to Sat 9am - 4pm (Winter hours)
All year round. Visitor Center hours different for summer and winter.
Other great things to do with kids near to
Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge