The National Park Service (NPS) works servicewide with federal, state, and local public health authorities closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic. We operate on a park-by-park basis based on guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities. Please follow local area health orders. Avoid crowding and high-risk outdoor activities.
The CDC offers guidance for people recreating in parks and open spaces to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. We highly recommended following these guidelines. We continue to monitor all park functions to ensure visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19 and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.
Check out the Operating Hours and Seasons page when making plans to visit the preserve.
Windmill Pasture and West Traps Pasture are opened to bison. Viewing by the one-room schoolhouse and access road is possible. Use caution while hiking through bison areas. Do not attempt close contact or petting the bison. If the bison are on the trail, either hike around the herd (100 yards) or turn around. It is best to avoid a dangerous situation. Bison are wild animals and will charge or defend themselves when feeling threatened. Visit the Safety page for more information on bison and wildlife.
The preserve thrives with several creatures. Ticks, chiggers, and mosquitoes actively look for a meal. Some venomous snakes inhabit the preserve. Poison Ivy grows everywhere in vine and shrub form. ALL wildlife is protected on the preserve. Visit the Safety page for more information on summer wildlife. Explore the List of Animals found at the preserve.
Self-guided tours of the historic ranch building complex grounds are available via signs and cell phone tour. The Lower Fox Creek one-room schoolhouse can be visited by either hiking the Southwind Nature Trail or by driving to the location. The school is open from May 1 through December 31, but can be viewed through the windows in all seasons.
The Flint Hills National Scenic Byway along highway K-177 is a 47.2-mile drive with incredible views of the prairie landscape. A pull-over scenic overlook lies south of Cottonwood Falls with interpretive waysides about the tallgrass prairie. Tune your radio to 1680 AM while driving from Cassoday to Council Grove through the heart of the tallgrass prairie ecosystem in the Kansas Flint Hills.
Trails and parking are available 24 hours a day. No overnight camping is available. The area offers great opportunities for night sky viewing. Hiking or foot access along the over 40 miles of backcountry trails is the only means of access at this time. The trail system follows old ranch roads, none of which were developed or designated for accessibility. However, the nature trails are easier by comparison. Inquire at the Visitor Center for trail conditions for accessibility needs.
A tour map is available at the Visitor Center or by emailing us.
Last updated: September 2, 2023