Maxwell Wildlife Preserve

If our family name doesn’t immediately conjure up visions of buffalo and elk, the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge might come as a surprise to you. Located on a Kansas prairie at the edge of the Smokey Hills, a 2,250-acre refuge bearing our family name is home to about 230 buffalo and a large population of elk.

In 1859, John Gault Maxwell drove a small herd of buffalo into the area and set up a homestead.  Later, he dreamed of preserving a piece of prairie, with a roaming herd of buffalo, so future generations could experience Kansas as it was in the 1800's, prior to settlement.  That idea lived on even after his death, as his two sons became successful businessmen and remembered their father’s dream.  The last surviving son, Henry Irving Maxwell, constructed his will to make that dream come true. His estate purchased land to create a wildlife refuge and deeded 2,560 acres to the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. The state then created the refuge and a fishing lake and campground to go with it.

About 45,000 people now visit the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge each year to view one of the last wild buffalo herds which still roams the nation’s heartland. Located about 30 miles north of Wichita, Kansas, the refuge presents visitors a rare opportunity to see buffalo and elk herds very much as the looked before being hunted almost to extinction.

Helping administer the Maxwell site is a cadre of about 600 volunteers who call themselves “The Friends of Maxwell.” They conduct Prairie Tours each week-end, Memorial Day through October, shuttling visitors in a tram which they call a modern covered wagon. Tours can also be arranged by reservation at other times during the year, with a heated van used for winter tours. The fees for tours are:  Adults - $7.00, Children under 12 - $5.00, Under 4 - free.

For Reservations, call (316)-628-4455, or write to: Friends of Maxwell, P.O. Box 687, Canton KS 67428.