Best Trails in Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge
Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge has been a protected area since 1901, making it the oldest managed wildlife facility in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge was also instrumental in rescuing the American buffalo from extinction, making it an interesting player in North America's history. It covers almost 60,000 acres of rocklands, aquatic landscapes, mixed-grass prairie, and cross timbers that serves as a home for plants, birds, fish, and reptiles. Bison, longhorns, elk, river otter, burrowing owls and, prairie dogs are some of the highlights. The Refuge also houses Mount Pinchot which is the tallest mountain in the park at 2,479 feet. Mount Pinchot was named in honor of Gifford Pinchot who served as the first Chief of the United States Forest Service. A close second is Mount Scott, at 2,464 feet.
There refuge is free to the public. A visitor center and bookstore on the refuge is open seven days a week. Public areas complete with 15 miles of hiking trails total 22,400 acres of the refuge while the remaining 37,000 acres are only accessible through guided tours as they serve as essential wildlife habitat. The most popular outdoor activities at the refuge are hiking, camping, fishing, bird and wildlife watching, and photography. Doris Campground (first come first served), Fawn Creek Campground (for organized educational groups), and backcountry camping in the Charon's Garden Wilderness Area are all available options. Contact the help center for reservations.