Wildlife Watching Sites in
on the map markers or the names in the list below to learn about
Flint Hills National Wildlife Refuge-a place of great variety-is on the Neosho River at the upper end of John Redmond Reservoir. This large waterfowl management area, which is in the western portion of the Osage Cuestas, is noted for its diverse habitats: wetlands, croplands, old fields, and tallgrass prairie. It is home-at one time of the year or another-to 7 species of woodpeckers, 13 species of flycatchers, 25 species of sparrows, and 31 species of warblers. Turkey vultures float the thermals on summer days and fireflies illuminate summer nights. Thousands of Mexico-bound monarch butterflies migrate through in September. Up to 150 bald eagles and more than 100,000 snow geese may spend the winter here. Foxes, coyotes, bobcats, bobwhite quail, wild turkeys, woodchucks, raccoons, and many other species hunt and forage year-round. The threatened Neosho madtom, a small fish, haunts the gravel bars in the Neosho River that winds through the refuge. Spiderwort, ragwort, and phlox bloom in spring. Sunflowers and silphium flower in summer, and goldenrods and asters blossom in fall. In summer, upland sandpipers, dickcissels, grasshopper sparrows, and eastern meadowlarks are commonly seen singing from fenceposts. At Goose Bend Marsh watch for waders such as great blue and green-backed herons feeding on fish and leopard frogs. Look also for ducks, muskrats, and several species of water snakes. The Dove Roost Trail is a good spot for observing songbirds, fox squirrels, white-tailed deer, and cottontail rabbits. The Burgess Trail (handicap accessible) follows the top of the dike and the Hartford Trail goes through river-bottom timber.
Dove Roost Trail (< 1 mile); Hartford Trail (< 1 mile); Burgess Trail (< 1 mile, handicapped accessible).
the 1-35 and the K-130 turnoff (Exit 141, just east of
Emporia), travel 8 miles south to Flint Hills National
Wildlife Refuge Headquarters at Hartford. Checklists, maps, and brochures are available.
entity responsible for management of the Flint Hills National Wildlife Refuge is
Fish and Wildlife Service. Contact them at (620) 392-5553
if you have specific questions about use or management of this area.
John Redmond Reservoir spans the broad floodplain of the Neosho River near the town of New Strawn. Located in the Central Flyway, Redmond is an important stopover for many species of migrating waterfowl. The nearby croplands of wheat, corn, and milo provide food for the migrating birds. During migrations greater and lesser yellowlegs, long-billed dowitchers, and other shorebirds are found in the mudflats. The surrounding bluestem pastures support many grassland animals. John Redmond Wildlife Area, along Otter Creek on the southwest side of the lake, is managed to maintain ample food, cover, and breeding areas for wildlife. In winter bald eagles perch in trees near the dam, and rough-legged hawks float overhead. Thousands of snow geese are in the area during the winter. Year-round, white-tailed deer, bobwhite quail, cottontail rabbits, raccoons, opossums, and coyotes can be seen in the Otter Creek area. In summer, look in the shallow waters for great blue and green-backed herons. Be sure to visit the 18,500-acre Flint Hills National Wildlife Refuge at the northern end of the lake.
96 Utility campsites, Primitive camping also
Hickory Creek Trail (14.1 miles).
Directions: To reach the dam, take U.S. 75 to the south end of New Strawn. Turn west, then follow the Redmond road southwest, a little over 1 mile. Maps and other information are available at the Corps of Engineers Information Center northeast of the dam. For a Google Map of this site, click here.
Ownership: The entities responsible for management of John Redmond are below. Contact them if you have specific questions about use or management of this area.
Army Corps of Engineers (620) 364-8614; 10,870 acres
The John Redmond Wildlife Area is managed by the Kansas
Department of Wildlife, Parks &
(620) 637-2748; 1,637 acres
Good in any season! Situated in the rolling tallgrass prairies and wooded valleys of the Flint and Chautauqua hills, Fall River Lake is a picturesque site with diverse habitat. Fall River and its tributaries are lined with oak, hickory, walnut, elm, and hackberry trees. Grasses and wildflowers dominate the uplands. Ragweed, mares-tail, foxtail, annual and Maximilian sunflower are found around the edges of fields and along roadways. All provide food, cover, and reproduction places for more than 400 species of wildlife. Spring brings the booming of greater prairie chickens to the grasslands. Scissor-tailed flycatchers, Henslow's sparrows, eastern bluebirds, and northern orioles can be seen in spring and summer. Bald eagles are common in the Fredonia Bay area in winter. Canada geese are found year-round in Quarry Bay. The quarry is a great spot to look for reptiles. Wild turkey, deer, raccoons, bobcats, coyotes, fox squirrels, beaver, and northern bobwhite quail are year-round residents. In the woodlands are northern flickers and downy and pileated woodpeckers. During migrations waterfowl can be seen from the observation blind in the northeast part of the wildlife area. Expect to see bufflehead, scaup, mergansers, pintails, shovelers, and lots of mallards. The mudflats may produce American avocets, as well as sandpipers and plovers. Large flocks of white pelicans are sometimes seen on the open waters.
26 Utility campsites, Primitive camping, 2 cabins (make a reservation online).
Post Oak Trail (0.75 mile); Catclaw and Bluestem Trails (2.5 miles total).
K-96 at the north edge of the town of Fall River, follow the signs north 3 miles to the dam. At the
Corps of Engineers Information Center, on the west side of the dam, you can pick up maps,
checklists, and other information.
Ownership: The entities responsible for management of Fall River are below. Contact them if you have specific questions about use or management of this area.
Army Corps of Engineers (620) 658-4445; 10,270 acres
Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks
& Tourism (620)
The undulating grasslands and timbered valleys of the Osage Cuestas make Elk City Lake one of the most exquisite spots in Kansas. The many trails, including the nationally recognized Elk River Hiking Trail, provide spectacular vistas of the lake and wind through some of the most appealing rock formations in the state. November through March are great months to see thousands of snow geese and their greater white-fronted and Canada cousins grazing the wheat fields near the wildlife refuge. Winter woodland birds include kinglets, brown creepers, tufted titmice, white-breasted nuthatches, and Carolina chickadees. Bald eagles, common and popular winter residents, can be best viewed in the standing timber of the backwaters of the upper reaches of the lake, particularly near Card Creek campground. Look for wood ducks there also. During spring and summer watch for woodpeckers, blue jays, and flycatchers. Neotropical birds, such as indigo and painted buntings, summer tanagers, northern parula, and prothonotary warblers, nest in this area. Ducks and large flocks of American white pelicans migrate through here. The woods are inhabited by pileated woodpeckers and red-tailed hawks year-round. Gray treefrogs, collared lizards, five-lined skinks, and ringneck snakes are active in spring and summer. Deer, squirrels, rabbits, wild turkeys, gray foxes, beavers, and raccoons are sometimes seen in the early morning and evening hours.
95 Utility campsites, Primitive camping also. You may reserve a campsite online.
Elk River Hiking Trail (15 miles one-way); Table Mound Hiking Trail (2.75 miles one-way); Green Thumb Nature Trail (1 mile round-trip); Post Oak Nature Trail (0.66 mile round-trip); Timber Ridge Hiking Trail (2.33 miles round-trip); Squaw Creek Multi-Use Trail (1 mile one-way).
Directions: Travel 1 mile west of Independence on U.S. 160. Follow the signs about 3 miles to the park office. The Corps of Engineers Information Center is a little over 3 miles northwest of the park office, just west of the dam. Maps, trail guides, and permits are available at both locations. For a Google Map of this site, click here.
Ownership: The entities responsible for management of Elk City are below. Contact them if you have specific questions about use or management of this area.
Army Corps of Engineers (620) 331-0315; 13,000 acres
Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks
& Tourism (620)
Questions or comments about Natural Kansas may be directed to
Questions or comments about Natural Kansas may be directed to Jim Mason