I’ve been to Maxwell Wildlife Refuge a handful of times, but this visit has been my favorite thus far. I think the warm, spring sun was just as appreciated by me as the wildlife that calls Maxwell home because as I made my way into the refuge, I was greeted by bison and elk even before approaching the entrance to the visitor’s center. It was extra special because the elk are extremely elusive, making this the first time I’ve seen them up close here at the refuge. Maxwell has 200 bison and 60 elk, making it the only public place in Kansas where you can see both species in the same location.

About Maxwell

Upon arrival, I was greeted by Trisha, the refuge’s Director, who shared tales of the refuge's rich history and conservation efforts. Established in 1951, Maxwell Wildlife Refuge spans 2,800 acres of pristine prairie habitat, making it a haven for native species such as bison, elk, and deer. The visitor center’s exhibits and displays offered insight into the history and ecology of the area. From the pioneering spirit of early settlers to the ongoing efforts to protect and preserve native habitats, Maxwell Wildlife Refuge is a testament to the enduring relationship between humanity and the natural world.

Good Day Kansas - Maxwell - Colby


We loaded up on the tram (covered, open-air trailer) and ventured deeper into the refuge to get up close with the bison. Being there in the spring is magical, not only was the prairie was coming to life, the herd was welcoming new life with many bison calves, including a couple that were only a few hours old. Being mere feet away from these magnificent creatures, I felt a profound sense of humility and reverence. In their presence, I was reminded of the importance of conservation and preserving our natural heritage for future generations to enjoy.

Good Day Kansas - Maxwell - Colby

Book a Tour

To book a tour, head to maxwellwildliferefuge.com to see their public tram schedule. You can also see their upcoming special events such as trail rides (BYOH, bring your own horse), wildflower tours, and the Mountain Man Rendezvous. They also offer private tours customized for each group and a ton of educational programming for scouts, 4-H, and school groups!

McPherson State Fishing Lake

If you happen to be in the area when tours aren’t available, you are able to drive through the refuge as the access road to nearby McPherson State Fishing Lake runs through the property. It’s not a guarantee to see the bison from the road, so have binoculars handy. No matter how you experience the refuge, it’s places like this what remind us to slow down, take a breath, and appreciate the simple joys of life. If you find yourself traveling through the area, make a detour to Maxwell Wildlife Refuge, it’s a trip you won’t soon forget!

Prairie Trail Scenic Byway

The refuge is on the 56-mile Prairie Trail Scenic Byway that starts in Canton and ends at Kanopolis State Park. This area is perfect for outdoor enthusiast looking for hiking trails, nature-oriented experiences, and great locations to set up camp for a bit and relish in the beauty of central Kansas. 

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