Weave your way through prairie grasslands, steep mountains and winding canyons to the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge on the Wichita Mountains Byway in southwest Oklahoma. Established in 1901 for the protection of large game animals, the refuge is the oldest managed wildlife preserve in the United States.
Take the Bison Trail at the heart of the refuge, and see a thriving herd of the largest land animal in North America gently grazing in its natural habitat. The American bison (buffalo) were nearly extinct when they were reintroduced to the preserve in 1907. Keep your eyes peeled as you hike --in addition to buffalo, you might glimpse Rocky Mountain elk, white-tailed deer, and even Texas longhorn cattle munching on the grassy steppe.
If you prefer little critters, watch for prairie dogs underfoot, Wild Turkey ahead, or even an endangered bird, the Black-capped Vireo, flying above you. Wander the preserve on your own, or come closer to the wonders of the area on a ranger-led tour. Marvel at vibrant displays of fall color in season, or watch eagles soar gracefully on gentle thermals. After the sun sets, gaze toward the heavens and enjoy the vast expanse of brilliant stars, far from urban lights. These tours are accessible to everyone with advanced notice. Come discover the wonders and wildlife of the Wichita Mountains Byway.
- Copyright © September 2007 Amy B.
- Copyright © May 2012 Amy B.