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Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge and Prairie Learning Center

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Wish I'd had more time!

My friend and I were in an RV, and part of the RAGBRAI, so we were limited on time, but I enjoyed... read more

Reviewed August 14, 2018
Bridgewater, New Jersey
Sense of Wonder

I almost drove by - and boy, am I glad that I did not. The concept of turning 5,000 acres back to... read more

Reviewed August 6, 2018
Brockton, Massachusetts
Read all 70 reviews
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Traveler Overview
  • Excellent62%
  • Very good31%
  • Average2%
  • Poor5%
  • Terrible0%
Travelers talk about
“auto tour”(11 reviews)
“bison”(25 reviews)
“mile trail”(5 reviews)
This is the largest prairie reconstruction project in the United States.
9981 Pacific St, Prairie City, IA 50228-7820
+1 515-994-3400
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Reviews (70)
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All reviews auto tour bison mile trail visitor center wildlife refuge gift shop des moines acres and acres scenic drive all ages ground squirrels visitors pheasant herd exhibits calves cattle
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1 - 10 of 70 reviews
Reviewed August 14, 2018

My friend and I were in an RV, and part of the RAGBRAI, so we were limited on time, but I enjoyed what we saw - a great visitor's center, a loop that included bison viewing (we didn't see the elk), birds etc.

Date of experience: July 2018
Thank DLWheeler
Reviewed August 6, 2018

I almost drove by - and boy, am I glad that I did not. The concept of turning 5,000 acres back to original prairie is almost impossible to grasp. But 30 minutes walking and listening and jut soaking in the beauty is an experience I...More

Date of experience: August 2018
2  Thank Bossybumpkins815
Reviewed July 10, 2018 via mobile

This was a fun side stop- we got to see two bison on the auto tour. We also heard & saw lots of song birds and a couple 13 lined ground squirrels! The visitor center was awesome!! We did lots of shopping in there &...More

Date of experience: July 2018
Thank I4216BZkellys
Reviewed June 5, 2018

Not much wildlife so early in the spring, only buffalo – some with calves. No elk. Not even many birds.If you’re familiar with Midwest country life, this might not be a very interesting place to visit this early in the year. It also didn’t look...More

Date of experience: April 2018
1  Thank coak61241
Reviewed April 30, 2018

We were driving through this part of Iowa and had some time to stop and check out the area more closely. This refuge and nature center is well-stocked with information and opportunities to observe and learn about nature. The center has lots of displays that...More

Date of experience: April 2018
1  Thank OutdoorKidz
Reviewed November 14, 2017

We drove our car through park with free range bison and elk in the fall native prairie of this wild life refuge, beautiful and so peaceful in November. Visitors center well done and includes prairie dog exhibit, displays are educational and interesting for all ages.

Date of experience: November 2017
Thank Christine F
Reviewed September 5, 2017

This wildlife refuge features a herd of free ranging bison and elk. The refuge is fenced in and has cattle gates at each end of this drive through park. Don't exit your car, but you can take photos as they're often near the road. You...More

Date of experience: October 2016
Thank Randy K
Reviewed July 31, 2017

This is a National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) which has been bought and paid for with money from the sales of Federal Duck Stamps. This NWR that is located in Central Iowa (about 20 miles east of Des Monies) and is dedicated to restoring the native...More

Date of experience: July 2017
Thank BluegooseTraveler
Reviewed July 8, 2017

We decided to drive through on our way home to see if we could spot the bison or elk today. And yes we did! We saw 4-5 head of elk with two of them being bulls and having pretty good size antlers. The bison we...More

Date of experience: July 2017
Thank davidjensen399
Reviewed July 7, 2017 via mobile

My 8 year old twins and I thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon visit to the refuge. We spent 3.5 hours between the learning center and the 2 mile trail that circles the prairie just beyond the center. The girls had a nice time exploring the learning...More

Date of experience: July 2017
Thank Chris M
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