Thousands of Sandhill Cranes, ducks, shorebirds and some endangered Whooping Cranes use this important bird area. This 32,197-acre refuge located in north-central Oklahoma, is made up of a variety of habitats such as wetlands, prairie and about 12,000 acres of salt flats. Majestic and wide open, the salt flats are the only place in the world where you can dig for hourglass selenite crystals.
Crystal Digging Season open April 1 through October 15

Dig for free selenite crystals during the Crystal Digging Season open April 1 through October 15 from sunrise to sunset. Crystal Digging is only allowed in the designated dig area, marked with bright orange signs about 1 mile through the gate at Selenite Crystal Dig Area located at: 66003 Garvin Road, Cherokee, OK 73728. The observation tower is open all year! Call 580/626-4794 for more information. 

Visit Us

Come explore this unique refuge by hunting, fishing, birdwatching, crystal digging, viewing wildlife and hiking. The refuge is free to enter and is open everyday from sunrise to sunset except for fishing and crystal digging (open April 1 through October 15). Pets are allowed but must be on leash. Make sure to check out the visitor center located two miles south of State Highway 11 along County Road 710.

Location and Contact Information

      About Us

      Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge encompasses 32,197 acres in north-central Oklahoma. The refuge is composed of mixed-grass prairie, rolling sand hills, forested riparian riparian
      Definition of riparian habitat or riparian areas.

      Learn more about riparian
      areas, herbaceous wetlands, open water (Great Salt Plains Reservoir), and salt flats.

      What We Do

      Many conservation tools like prescribed fire, heavy equipment, and chemical herbicides are used to manage the refuge for migratory and breeding birds, mammals, herps, fish and aquatic species. As well as connecting to the surrounding community and partners about environmental issues.

      Our Species

      The whooping crane occurs only in North America and is North America’s tallest bird, with males approaching 1.5 m (5 ft) when standing erect. The whooping crane adult plumage is snowy white except for black primaries, black or grayish alula (specialized feathers attached to the upper leading end...

      FWS Focus

      Projects and Research

      The refuge has management programs focused on inventory and monitoring, invasive species invasive species
      An invasive species is any plant or animal that has spread or been introduced into a new area where they are, or could, cause harm to the environment, economy, or human, animal, or plant health. Their unwelcome presence can destroy ecosystems and cost millions of dollars.

      Learn more about invasive species
      and habitat. The Visitor Services Program focuses projects on outreach, education and partnerships.