Current Conditions

 
aerial image of the historic ranch site
Aerial photo of the historic ranch barn, house, and outbuildings

NPS

Please be aware of current conditions when making plans to visit the preserve. Historic buildings are open daily as posted on the Operating Hours and Seasons page.

Bison - Windmill Pasture is home to the preserve's bison herd. 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. If the bison are on the trail, either hike far around the herd in the pasture or turn around. It is best to be proactive and not allow yourself to be placed in a dangerous situation. These are wild animals and will charge or defend themselves when feeling threatened. If your presence makes the animals move in any way or causes them to get up, you are too close. Do not run in the bison pasture as this movement sometimes excites the animals and may cause them to chase or charge.

Allow at least 100 yards between you and the herd. A tour map is available on site or by emailing us. 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. Sometimes West Traps pasture (Davis Trail) is closed to allow for bison management practices. It is always best to check out the Alerts part of our website, as this is where the most current information is posted.
Visitor Opportunities - Self-guiding tours of the historic ranch building complex grounds are available daily via brochure and cell phone tour. Tour numbers are posted on waysides around the historic buildings. The Lower Fox Creek one-room schoolhouse can be visited by either hiking the Southwind Nature Trail or by driving to the location. School is open from May through December, but can be viewed through the windows in all seasons.

Bus Tours - Bus tours are available from the last Saturday in April through the last Sunday in October. It is always best to call the ranger desk (620-273-8494 then 0) in advance to see when bus tours are available.

On weekends with available staffing, bus tours will be at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Wet road conditions or staffing availability are the only reasons a tour may be cancelled. Please call ahead to the ranger desk to check on tour availability (620-273-8494 hit 0). If a tour must be cancelled, you will be given a call the morning of the tour. Use of private vehicles on the trails/tour road is not allowed.

During the week, Monday through Friday, please call to check on available bus tours. Due to staffing shortage, there may be some days bus tours are not available. Please call ahead.

As you travel to or from the park, a nice scenic drive along the Flint Hills National Scenic Byway on highway K-177 is also an option 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.

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 has the most gentle 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.

Last updated: July 26, 2019

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

2480B KS Hwy 177
Strong City, KS 66869

Phone:

(620) 273-8494 xhit 0

Contact Us