Maxwell Wildlife Refuge

Off Highway 86, 6 miles north of
Canton, Kansas

Tours available by reservation (620) 628-4455 
Adults - $15      4 - 12 - $7.50     Under 4 - Free

2015 Elk & Buffalo Photos

Maxwell Wildlife Refuge Map

Maxwell Wildlife Refuge - Canton, Kansas
Bison and elk at dawn at Maxwell Wildlife Refuge
Bison and elk in the dawn light

Maxwell Wildlife Refuge near Canton, Kansas is home to one of the few surviving wild buffalo herds. As of January 2016 there were about 20 buffalo and 85 elk on the refuge. Each fall there is an auction of surplus buffalo.

It began in 1859, when a small herd of buffalo were driven into the area around the Maxwell homestead.  The Maxwell family wanted to preserve a piece of prairie, with a roaming herd of buffalo, for future generations and in 1943, the Henry Maxwell estate donated 2,560 acres of land to the Kansas Forestry, Fish, and Game Commission for the creation of the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge dedicated to bison and other prairie species.

Public access to the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge includes occasional tram tours, horse back rides in spring & fall (must have own horse) and the 50 year old observation tower where some of these photos were taken. Special events at Maxwell Wildlife Refuge include the Prairie Days festival on the first weekend in June, and the Mountain Man Rendezvous on the Prairie on the first Friday and Saturday of October. The Friends of Maxwell over 45 minute covered tram tours where, at the minimum, you will get close up looks at the bison, while enjoying the beauty of the native wildflowers and the plains.

Up until 2020, there was an observation tower, but it has been removed.

Fishing and primitive camping are available at nearby McPherson State Fishing Lake.

Wild buffalo at the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge
American Bison at the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge

Maxwell Wildlife Refuge tram tours
Tram tours

Maxwell Wildlife Refuge
View from the Observation Tower

Photographing bison and elk

American Bison calf and mother
Calves have a reddish, light brown coat and lack the distinctive hump of the adult bison,
starting to turn brown and develop the hump after a few months.

Although many people call them buffalo, the correct name is american bison (Bison bison)

Elk at Maxwell Wildlife Refuge
The elk (Cervus canadensis) at Maxwell tend to be more shy than the bison. (More photos of the elk)

buffalo at Maxwell Wildlife Refuge
Buffalo herd seen from Pueblo Road

Maxwell Wildlife Refuge Map - Canton, Kansas
Maxwell Wildlife Refuge Map

Page 2 of photos of elk & buffalo    Maxwell Wildlife Refuge web site 
Another wild buffalo herd is at the Red Buffalo Ranch in southeast Kansas

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LS - 4/13  copyright 2005-2024 by Keith Stokes