Explore with Kids: Maxwell Wildlife Refuge in the Kansas Prairie

Maxwell Wildlife Refuge Bison Oh give me a home where the buffalo roam. Just decades after being on the brink of extinction, the ubiquitous giants of the great plains have a home once again roaming the rolling prairie on the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge. And, your whole family can visit them in their natural habitat. Covered trams take you out into the Smoky Hills to see the herd of hundreds of bison (and sometimes elk) with informative tour guides.

Learn about native species, American history, conservation efforts, and why what you may know as the ‘buffalo’ is actually the American Bison. Before or after your tour, spend time in the visitor center where they have a stagecoach and many relics from the days of the Santa Fe Trail, as well as art and small souvenirs. 

Maxwell Wildlife Refuge Kansas PrairieExplore the prairie and enjoy the native wildflowers, and catch glimpses of wildlife including white tail deer, bison, and elk (November – March). 


Maxwell Wildlife Refuge – 2565 Pueblo Road, Canton, KS 67428. This is just over an hour from Wichita (slightly NE of McPherson).

Hours:Kansas Prairie Stagecoach

Tours are by appointment only (no holidays, no Sundays); three days advance notice requested. Email [email protected] to schedule your visit. Allow 45 minutes for your tour. 

Prepare for Kansas weather, no matter the season. There are windows on the tram seasonally and quilts provided in cooler temperatures, but the trams are not climate controlled. Dress as though you will be out in the elements.


  • Adults: $15
  • Children 4-11: $7.50
  • Children 3 & under: no charge

Kansas PrairieOther activities:

-Adjacent to the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge is McPherson State Fishing Lake and Campground. Enjoy fishing (permit required) or camp at one of their many primitive sites or in a furnished cabin. Camping reservations and fees apply. 

-Throughout the year there are special events at the Refuge including Fall Rendezvous, Christmas on the Prairie, Elk Days, and Guided Trail Rides (bring your own horse). 

Check out more in our Explore With Kids Series!

Ginny Ellis
Ginny Ellis is a hometown girl who happily resides in East Wichita with her husband, two young sons, two rowdy dogs, and one spoiled tortoise. Together they enjoy taking part in all our city has to offer, especially if it involves being outdoors, supporting the arts, or is particularly delicious. She is a WAHM who serves as WMB's Events Director as well as holding volunteer positions in Junior League of Wichita, on her neighborhood elementary school's PTO Board, and for United Way of the Plains. Ginny is a podcast enthusiast, laundry folding procrastinator, and insatiable reader who loves the Shockers, theme parties, and her margaritas on the rocks.


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