Plan Your Visit to The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge +1-866-869-5359

Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, founded in 1901, is one of more than 556 sanctuaries overseen by the US Fish and Wildlife Service around the US. The 59,020-acre land shelter contains an intriguing remnant of the past – a rest blended grassland, an island where the usual plains escaped obliteration due to the stones beneath crushing the furrow. Giant native brushing species, including American buffalo, Rocky Mountain elk, and white-followed deer, have a home at the refuge. Texas longhorn dairy cattle share the Refuge rangelands as a social and documented heritage species. More than 50 vertebrates, 240 birds, 64 reptiles and land and water critters, 36 fish, and 806 plant species flourish with this enormous refuge.

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Buffalo, elk, and wild turkey were all imported for the second time. The reintroduction of natural life ensures that untamed life, which was once abundant in the Wichita Mountains, will continue to exist. The stream otter, tunnelling owls, and the grassland canine have recently been reintroduced and are thriving in four different areas of the refuge. The efforts to save the significant types of untamed life once endangered have been exceedingly successful. The crowds at important events have grown to the point where they are no longer a genuine threat. The primary goal of the big game group the board has shifted from ensuring the spread of an endangered species to the maintenance of delegate crowds employing high-reach use rehearsals.

Three indigenous species overrun the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge: American buffalo, Rocky Mountain elk, and white-followed deer. At the same time, neither “local” nor “natural life,” a herd of Texas longhorn dairy cattle is maintained to preserve the variety’s social and cultural tradition. These four species cause the shelter’s vegetative administration, as they are responsible for the vast majority of touching and browsing. Because of the limited accessibility of rummage, each crowd is analysed to determine the number of creatures that the refuge can keep up with. As a result, the minor absolute levels for each gathering are determined, i.e., the maximum number of animals allowed in each group. These cut-off points allow just around 33% of the available meadow vegetation to be used each year, ensuring that all-natural creatures will have enough food available to them at any one moment.

Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge


Around 20,000 sections of open blended grassland make up the 59,020 land or shelter lands, with the rest being backwoods and rock offshoots. Little bluestem dominates the meadows, with Indian grass, big bluestem, switchgrass, side oats grama, hairy grama, and blue grama accounting for a large portion of the overall species composition. Post oak, blackjack oak, and eastern red cedar have taken over the forested areas.

The use of prescribed fire to increase the variety and acceptability of grass species, support development, and slow the spread of woody species into the fields is every day among natural environment administrators. Buffalo, elk, deer, and longhorns are the essential nibblers and programs that rely on vegetation. Several observing processes are used to examine territorial state, including meadow usage and recurrence checks, which are conducted in January and July, respectively, and inside forest and edge cut across. The vireo’s survival is being checked regularly to ensure its survival.

Things To Do

Wildlife Viewing & Nature Trails

French Lake, Boulder, Lost Lake, and the Dog Run Hollow halting regions are all part of the Dog Run Hollow Trail System, part of the National Recreational Trail System. Guests can choose between a one, three, or four-hour hike through a portion of the refuge’s a more impressive territory by starting at the French Lake trailhead. This challenging trail structure provides beautiful views, providing very little shade. Various social paths branch off from the authority trails, making navigation difficult. Prepare by downloading maps (phone service is limited up here), packing extra drinking water, and allotting plenty of time for your ascent to have a safe and enjoyable trip on the Bison, Longhorn, or Elk Trails. Another trail extends from the dam at Quanah Parker Lake to the summit of Little Baldy Mountain, and a side path from the Doris Campground connects to the course on the Lake’s western edge.

Interpretation & Environmental Education

The refuge has several explanatory open doors. Attend a performance or a movie about the refuge and its natural life in the Visitor Center, or attend an interpretive program to learn more from a professional. With about 8,000 understudies participating each year, the refuge boasts one of the most extensive environmental education programs in the National Wildlife Refuge System. The majority of the projects take place at Quanah Parker Lake’s Environmental Education Center and include a wild experience and some homeroom instruction. Understudies enjoy vigorous exercises to learn about natural life and the preservation of untamed life. Classes are appropriate for all-age study halls, self-teaching, scout units, youth meetings, parochial schools, and any other planned educational program to get children out to learn about natural life.


Since roughly 1969, public chases have been presented on the shelter, starting with rifle pursuing after Rocky Mountain elk. Rifle hunting was expanded to include white-followed deer in 1984. While the white-followed deer herd is native to the area, the elk herd began with presentations in 1911-1912. Rocky Mountain elk (Cervus elaphus nelsoni) were reintroduced from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to replace local groups of Merriam’s elk that were being unpredictably pursued into extinction. Today, careful management ensures their survival, limits their numbers, and allows a portion to be gathered. This rich tradition of untamed life subordinate amusement occurs every year throughout the shelter, except regions outside the limit fence (974 acres), inside working fields (1,764 acres), and areas with high open use, primarily around structures, streets, public use offices, and authoritative offices (2,831 sections of land).


While the lakes’ primary function is to provide a constant water source for refuge wildlife and act as the beginnings of the watershed for specific nearby creeks, they are also expected to provide a superb family fishing experience in a tranquil setting. To achieve these goals, Lake norms have been established to ensure a pleasant fishing experience, maintain water quality, and limit adverse effects on natural life species. Fishing on the shelter will require only an Oklahoma State fishing license. Shafts and lines, as well as bars and reels, can be used to catch fish. Anglers may use tube-type floaters, life coats, or light vests because swimming is permitted while fishing. Taking any lure from shelter terrains or lakes is prohibited, just as taking frogs and turtles is not allowed.


There are various outing areas scattered across the refuge with the expectation of complimentary admission during daylight hours. The Stone Cabin can be rented for a private picnic. Mt. Scott Picnic Area is located east of Lake Elmer Thomas and directly south of Mt. Scott. Between Refuge Headquarters and Doris Campground, the Lost Lake and Boulder Picnic Areas are located in the middle. The Nightfall Picnic Area is located at the base of Elk Mountain on the west end of the facility. Street signage will direct you to these excursion areas throughout the shelter. Although fire rings and barbecues are available, please check current Fire Danger Ratings at the shelter doors or the Current Events page to determine user requirements for your own and others’ safety. At all barbeque areas, there are waste dumpsters and restrooms.

Rock Climbing

The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, the Access Fund, and the Wichita Mountains Climbers Coalition have come together to help and present significant ascending open doors for visiting climbers. They have created the accompanying rules to ensure a quality ascending experience while ensuring the shelter and its natural surroundings are safe for untamed life.

Thanks to its superb rock, multi-pitch courses, and wild location, the shelter is one of the most well-known climbing obstacles in the Southwest. Previously, the US Fish and Wildlife Service was concerned about regular asset impacts such as soil disintegration and the growth of fixed anchors due to this renown. In any event, those worries are effectively addressed due to the organization’s efforts in the climbing sector. To ensure that open access, minimal guidance, and a stable environment remain a part of your climbing experiences at the refuge, each climber is encouraged to do everything possible to reduce or prevent recurring asset impacts.

Law Enforcement

Dealing with the National Wildlife Refuge System necessitates the use of legal authority. Refuge Federal Wildlife Officers uphold government regulations and legislation that protect regular assets, visitors, and representatives. “Through education and implementation, they safeguard the workers, volunteers, and guests. They protect the public’s interest in offices and gear and safeguard the uprightness of the environment and the natural life assets of the National trust asset. It is the 150 million section of land National Wildlife Refuge System,” according to the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System Law Enforcement program. Federal Wildlife Officers make every effort to assist guests in comprehending refuge rules and standards, as well as the reasons for them.

As part of their day-to-day duties, these Federal Wildlife Officers carry out a wide range of responsibilities. They assist with Refuge chases and fishing permit and creel consistency investigations and are in charge of enforcing transit restrictions and investigating engine vehicle mishaps. They watch camping places, excursion locations, and other public and special-use areas. They also assist with other Refuge programs such as fire, biological, and visitor services. Finally, they provide general protection for the refuge’s special events and assist with search and salvage.

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