In July and August, I spent some time with my family in Oklahoma. While I was there, I went on some daytrips with my brother to explore parts of the state I haven’t spent much time in.
One of the days we went down to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge to explore and hopefully capture a rad picture of a bison. This pace is a great day trip from either Oklahoma City.
The trip from Oklahoma City is a little less than two hours, regarless of if you take I-44 or I-35.
There’s no admission fees for the refuge. Stop by the Visitor’s Center when you get there for maps and information.
Tip: The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge is in southern Oklahoma near the Texas border. It is NOT near Wichita, Kansas
About the Refuge
From their website:
Established in 1901,Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge is one of more than 556 refuges throughout the United States managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The 59,020 acre refuge hosts a rare piece of the past – a remnant mixed grass prairie, an island where the natural grasslands escaped destruction because the rocks underfoot defeated the plow.
The refuge provides habitat for large native grazing animals such as American bison, Rocky Mountain elk, and white-tailed deer. Texas longhorn cattle also share the refuge rangelands as a cultural and historical legacy species. More than 50 mammal, 240 bird, 64 reptile and amphibian, 36 fish, and 806 plant species thrive on this important refuge.
Things to Do
- There are thirty miles of trails you can hike on your own. There are also tours and events. Check the schedule before you go.
- Rock Climbing (one of my best friends from high school used to make the trek down to climb a few times a year)
- With a valid permit, you can hunt and fish
- Camping (for those who want more than a daytrip)
My brother and I had left OKC pretty late in the morning and had made a few other stops, so we got to the Refuge close to dusk. Since my main goal was to photograph the animals, this was a good time to get in. The bison hide a lot during the day, and come out when it cools down.
Driving around during a sunset in the Refuge is a real treat. The wind is sweet, like wild grasses. The sunlight playing off the mountains is gorgeous. And the animals come right out and stand on the edge of the road.
Right away, we spotte a Longhorn in the grass.
We also spotted two very young longhorn calves fighting, which set off two teenage cattle to start fighting, and that caused two very large cattle to start brawling. Which made me afraid for our car (and a little bit my life). Two large longhorns fighting ten feet from you is kind of a scary thing.
We drove around more, enjoying the breeze and saw several more groups of longhorn. Unfortunatley, we never spotted the bison I wanted to see. I’ll have to go back next spring when I’m in town and see if I can nab a pic.
There’s no such thing as an American Buffalo. Everything you think of as a buffalo in America is actually a bison.
- No Limitations Travel Blog
- Mountain Project: Witchita Wilfdlife Refuge Rock Climbing
- Wichita Mountains Climbers Coalition
- The EPA Blog: Oh, Give Me a Home Where the Buffalo Roam
Have you been the the Refuge or any other wildlife preserves? Got any tips? Share below!