• Fall on the prairie

    What's Happening in November?

    In November, the prairie turns rust-colored, seeds are abundant and the elk are easier to spot.

    Seasons of the Refuge

  • Winter child with snowshoes 2

    Winter Field Trip Registration is Open

    Registration for winter 2019-20 field trips is now open! December through February is a great time to visit the refuge! Click on link below.

    Field Trip Registration

  • Bison and Calf 216

    Banking on Nature Report

    Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge brings more to you than watchable wildlife, it's good for the economy!

    Read more about Banking on Nature here.


Annual Photo Contest

annual photo contest

Get your best Refuge photos ready for our annual contest! This contest is sponsored by the Friends of Neal Smith NWR and the Refuge. Entries must be dropped off at the Refuge during open hours or postmarked by July 15. The 2018 Best of Show winner was Kristie Burns.

Contest Rules and Entry Forms

Iowa Junior Duck Stamp Program


The Junior Duck Stamp Program uses art and science to teach students in grades K-12 the value of wetlands and the waterfowl that use them. Judging of Iowa entries will be held in March with an award ceremony for all 100 winners in April. Iowa entries must be postmarked by March 15.

Learn more

Recreation Passes

Recreation passes

America the Beautiful - National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Passes are available at the Visitor Center Monday - Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Accepted payments are cash or check. Credit or debit cards may not be used for payment.

Learn more
Visit the Refuge

Prairie Learning and Visitor Center

About the refuge

The Prairie Learning and Visitor Center, which houses an exhibit area, movie theater, classrooms and the Prairie Point Nature Store, operated by the Friends of Neal Smith NWR is open year-round. The Visitor Center is open every day from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., except in the winter. Winter hours, from December 1 to February 28,are Monday to Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., being closed on Sundays. The Refuge is open on Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day and is closed all other Federal holidays. A five-mile auto tour through the bison/elk enclosure and four trails are open daily, dawn to dusk. All other roads through the Refuge are open from dawn to dusk. Maps are available in the Visitor Center.

About the NWRS

National Wildlife Refuge System


The National Wildlife Refuge System, within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, manages a national network of lands and waters set aside to conserve America's fish, wildlife, and plants.

Learn more about the NWRS