Reminder, Bison Are Wild Animals
Windmill Pasture is home to the bison herd. They have been quite active in recent weeks. Please stay on the trails and use caution in their vicinity. Do not come in close contact with the bison. Allow at least 100 yards between you and the herd. More »
Please be aware of current conditions when making your plans to visit the preserve.
Bison - Windmill Pasture is home to the preserve's bison herd. They have been quite active in recent weeks. You are welcome to hike in this area, but please stay on the trails and use caution in their vicinity. Do not attempt to pet or come in close contact with the bison, even if they approach you. These are wild animals and will charge or defend themselves when feeling threatened. Allow at least 100 yards between you and the herd. A tour map is available for download here. The Davis Trail and lower portion of the Prairie Fire Loop Trail can be used to reach the Scenic Overlook without hiking through the bison pasture.
Visitor Opportunities - Guided tours of the historic ranch building complex grounds are available daily in June at 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. The tours encompass the historic limestone outbuildings of chicken house, carriage house, ice house, three-seat outhouse, and curing house. The Lower Fox Creek one-room schoolhouse can be visited by either hiking the Southwind Nature Trail or by driving to the location. In addition and new this year, the schoolhouse is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Permanent Exhibits - Installation of the permanent exhibits for the Visitor Center began June 2, 2014 and is expected to take a couple weeks to complete. The Visitor Center remains open to the public during the installation process. The bookstore inside the Visitor Center remains fully operational and a temporary viewing area for the park film has been established for family groups.
Bus Tours - Bus tours in the park were stopped in August 2013, after sections of the historic ranch road that supported the bus tours were washed out. The road became impassable by bus and unsafe for transporting visitors. The road, which was never designated for use by the heavy tour buses, is being evaluated as how to best be re-routed or stabilized to support motorized visitor access in the future. There are no bus tours available at this time. Use of private vehicles on the trails/tour road is not allowed. Therefore, as you travel to or from the park, we recommend driving the Flint Hills National Scenic Byway on highway K-177 to see the prairie landscape from your car. There is a pull over scenic overlook area south of Cottonwood Falls with interpretive waysides that explain the tallgrass prairie. The byway takes you through the heart of the tallgrass prairie ecosystem of the Kansas Flint Hills.
Construction Projects - The historic barn is now open for viewing. Reclaimed historic lumber was used to replace damaged flooring, joists, and pillars. Come see the lower and middle floors of the barn.
The Spring Hill Ranch house remains closed until multiple structural and health/safety issues have been corrected, ensuring a safe experience for visitors to tour the building once again. The date of reopening the 1881 ranch house is yet undetermined, although it may be several years.
Trails - Walking or touring the grounds of the historic structures remains open 24 hours and offers great opportunities for night sky viewing. Hiking or foot access along the over 40 miles of trails is the only means of access at this time. The historic routes that make up the trail system follow the old ranch roads, of which none were developed or designated for accessibility. However, some of the trails are a little easier than others to traverse.
The Bottomland Nature Trail is the one with the gentlest of slopes found in the preserve. Inquire at the Visitor Center for trail conditions to self-evaluate individual motorized devices such as wheelchair or electric carts to address accessibility needs, understanding that none of the trails/gravel roads meet ADA requirements at this time.
Did You Know?
Collared lizards can run on their hind legs with a stride that reaches more than 3 times the length of their bodies.