Maxwell Wildlife Refuge
2577 Pueblo Road
Canton, KS 67428
GPS: N38 28.683 W97 27.118
Manager: Cliff Peterson
In 1943, the Henry Maxwell estate donated 2.560 acres (4 sq. mi.) of land to the Kansas Forestry, Fish, and Game Commission for the creation of a wildlife refuge dedicated to bison and other prairie species. Of that area, a little over 300 acres was designated to be used for the construction of a public fishing lake and the remainder fenced to hold bison and elk. Bison and elk herds were initiated on the refuge in 1951. The primary use of the area is wildlife viewing.
The Don Brown Memorial Shooting Range is located on the very southeastern corner of the property (2680 Pioneer Road). It was created in early 1984, in memory of rural Galva resident Don Brown, who dearly loved the Maxwell Refuge and McPherson State Lake. Don was an avid outdoorsman and taught Hunter Education Classes because of his passion for children, hunting, and the local area. His untimely death at the age of 47 from an auto accident in October 1982, on a road near the refuge, was a tragedy and loss to all who loved him. The Brown family requested memorials be donated to a fund that would establish something in his memory that would live on honoring him and be beneficial to others who love the area as he did.
The refuge is located 6 miles north of Canton, in the very southeastern tip of the scenic Smoky Hills, an area of large rolling hills. Principal vegetation is a warm-season mixed grass prairie with many species of grasses and forbs. The dominant grass species are big bluestem, little bluestem, Indiangrass, switchgrass, and sideoats grama. Forbs are abundant and numerous clumps of native sand plum and smooth sumac are scattered throughout the area. Soils are mostly moderately deep sandy loams. Principal management techniques used on the area are prescribed fire and grazing by bison and elk, including herd management to maintain proper grazing levels. Primary use of the area is wildlife viewing. The Maxwell Refuge is the only location in Kansas where public herds of both bison and elk can be viewed in a native prairie environment. It is home to the state's largest public herd of bison. Visitors may view on-their-own from the road and the observation tower or call ahead to schedule a tram tour with the Friends of Maxwell for a close-up view of the bison (620-628-4455). Link to www.cyberkraft.com/maxwell for more information on tours and special events.
- Off-road vehicle use is prohibited.
- Visitors must remain inside their vehicles on the portion of the road that passes through the bison/elk enclosure. Where there is a fence along the road, visitors may park on the edge of the road and exit their vehicles for wildlife viewing.
- No camping or fires are allowed on the refuge. All camping must be done at McPherson State Fishing Lake, which adjoins the refuge on the west end.
- Fireworks are prohibited on the area.
- Alcohol and cereal malt beverages are also prohibited.
- Take all trash with you when you leave.
- No hunting is allowed on the refuge.
- Firearm use by the public is allowed only at the Don Brown Memorial Shooting Range on the southeastern corner of the property (2680 Pioneer Road).