Sandsage Bison Range and
Wildlife Area

Finney tour group
A tour group views a bison bull in the north pasture.
- Photo by Tom Norman

Formerly known as the Finney Game Refuge, this wildlife area is managed primarily for its herd of more than 100 bison.  It is divided into three large pastures. For safety, the public is not allowed to enter the areas containing the bison unescorted. Access is limited, and prior arrangements need to be made for a tour.   Call the Friends of the Sandsage Bison Range and Wildlife Area (620) 276-9400 for information on bison tours as well as the June wildflower tour and "Breakfast on the Prairie".  (web site link below)
Notices on the information signs at the office and parking lots explain which pastures are open to the public as the bison herd is seasonally moved. The sandpit area next to the north boundary road is always open to the public.

South pasture entrance
The south entrance gate to
Sandsage Bison Range and Wildlife Area

- Photo by Jim Mason

The sandsage prairie habitat attracts an interesting collection of wildlife species. Mule deer and coyotes are sometimes seen. The area also supports a small colony of black-tailed prairie dogs. The diggings of Ord's kangaroo rats are found throughout the area. Nesting birds include lesser prairie chickens, lark sparrows, Cassin's sparrows, and western meadowlarks.

You may also wish to visit the 47 acre Lee Richardson Zoo (web site link below), which is less than a mile from the refuge. In addition to the confined animals, wildlife watchers will find nesting house finches and Mississippi kites in summer, and in winter the duck pond attracts large flocks of migrating waterfowl.

In 1905 the 30,000 acre Kansas National Forest was established on the sandsage prairie of the Garden City Dune Tract south of the Arkansas River, and just west of Garden City in Finney County. By 1908 more than 270,000 acres were added west to the Colorado border. Over 800,000 trees of various species were planted to determine which varieties were most suitable for the Great Plains, but the experiment failed, and irrigation turned most of the sand-sage prairie into cropland. A 3,670 acre sample of this land survives as the Sandsage Bison Range and Wildlife Area, managed by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. First brought up from Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma in 1924, the bison kept here are the oldest publicly owned herd in Kansas.

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Sandsage map

Directions:  The Sandsage Bison Range and Wildlife Area is located 1 mile south of Garden City on Business U.S. 83.  There are three parking areas, shown as red dots.

Lee Richardson Zoo is located less than 1 mile north of the refuge just inside the city limits.

Location in Kansas

For a Google Map for this site, click here.

Ownership: The entity responsible for management of this site is the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism.  Contact them at (620) 227-8609 if you have specific questions about use or management of the site.
You may download the KDWPT brochure on Sandsage Bison Range and Wildlife Area from their web site.
Click here to visit the Friends of Sandsage Bison Range and Wildlife Area web site.
Lee Richardson Zoo is operated by the City of Garden City, click here to visit their Web site.

3,670 acres

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The Natural Kansas web site © 2011 by
the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism.

Re-publication of site content in any form other than for personal use requires written permission.  If you are a Kansas resident, please assist with this and other wildlife viewing and conservation programs by contributing to the Chickadee Checkoff on your state tax form.

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