Wildlife Refuge is one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas Geography because...its midgrass prairie provides the only
place in Kansas
where both buffalo and elk can be viewed in their natural habitat by the
Location: 6 miles north of Canton on K-86 (27th Avenue), then 1 1/4 miles west on Pueblo to Friends visitor center.
For a year-round tram ride to see the buffalo (and often right into the buffalo herd) or elk call Friends of Maxwell at 620.628.4455.
Click here to see a KDWP video about the tram rides.
There are currently 150 buffalo and 75 elk at Maxwell.
only opportunity to see the elk is in the winter, December
through March. From mid-September until mid-October the dominant bulls
busy gathering cows into harems. But, if you're on the refuge, you might get lucky and hear the bugling on calm
mornings or evenings. The
4.5 square miles of Maxwell Wildlife Refuge includes a road through the
prairie that is open range. Sometime vehicles must stop until the
buffalo get out of the roadway.
Photo courtesy Jim Griggs
A tenth of a mile beyond the driveway to the Friends visitor center is a turn to an observation tower. You won't always see buffalo or elk from here but a panormaic prairie view is constant. PRAIRIE TRAIL SCENIC BYWAY Source: Kansas Scenic Byways website
Maxwell Wildlife Refuge is located in Battlehill Township, of McPherson
County. The preserved natural prairie is comprised of rolling
hills, creeks, springs, and beautiful prairie grasses and wildflowers. One hundred fifty head of bison and 75 elk roam free on these 2,800 acres.
THE STORY OF MAXWELL In 1859 John Gault Maxwell drove a small herd of buffalo into the area
and set up a homestead. He married in 1865 and he and his wife had two sons, John and
Maxwell's dream was to preserve a piece of prairie, with a roaming herd
of buffalo, for future generations to experience Kansas as it was in
the 1800s, prior to settlement.
With the death of Mr. Maxwell and the
success in business of his two sons, the dream lived on. John died in
1940 leaving his interests to Henry. When Henry died, his will
made Maxwell Wildlife Refuge possible. Ten buffalo and six elk were placed at the refuge in 1951.
The Friends of
Maxwell, a local non-profit organization, formed in 1993 to work with Kansas Wildlife
and Parks to promote the historic and educational values of the refuge. The Friends group began
designing programs to create an income to fund the activities, with the
main focus on guided prairie tours, traveling into the buffalo herd
with information about the buffalo. The importance of preserving our
environment, pointing out wildflowers and prairie grasses, and relating the history of the area were also stressed.
All of these experiences are made
possible because of one pioneer's fascination with the prairie and the
"Magnificent Buffalo", his young widow who strove to carry out her
husbands dream, his two sons who carried on the dream, and, finally, by the Friends of Maxwell.
Click here for a KDWP video about Maxwell Wildlife Refuge.