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Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge and Prairie Learning Center
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Attraction details
Owner description: This is the largest prairie reconstruction project in the United States.
Grimes, Iowa
2 reviews
“Prairie Preserve”
Reviewed May 12, 2013 via mobile

One of our favorite places to go in the Des Moines metro. Different things to see every season. Sometimes the bison and elk are hard to spot, but it's still fun to look for them.

Visited May 2013
Helpful?
Thank beedav1121
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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60 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Alameda, California
Level Contributor
41 reviews
21 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Worth the drive, anytime of year”
Reviewed May 7, 2013

Don't miss this if you are anywhere near Des Moines. The interpretive exhibits and visitor center are well designed, information packed and very accessible for all levels of visitors - makes learning about this interesting project easy and fun. Prairie restoration is clearly a backbreaking activity - but once you've been to the refuge, you'll understand why the effort it worth it. We've been in two different seasons, and it's a different world of plan, animal and bird life each time. Wonderful

Visited May 2013
Helpful?
Thank Jordan1324
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Des Moines, Iowa, United States
Level Contributor
23 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Lovely spot for viewing prairie wildlife including birds, bison and elk”
Reviewed April 26, 2013

Just a short drive from Des Moines sits this wonderful attraction, filled with prairie wildlife. You can hike some paved trails, or drive thru the fenced-in area that includes bison and elk. Ask the man at the desk in Learning Center for tips on exploring the park. He was very helpful. The Prairie Learning Center is beautiful, and not at all crowded when we visited. We look forward to going back in warmer weather.

Visited April 2013
Helpful?
Thank Lisa G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ames, Iowa
Level Contributor
112 reviews
41 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
“Beautiful place to picnic and view Iowa prairie”
Reviewed February 26, 2013

e bison and they have a terrific welcome center...full of information and displays that show the wildlife present.

Visited August 2012
Helpful?
Thank Blitzn2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Madison, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
55 reviews
19 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Great Sunday Adventure”
Reviewed December 9, 2012

My wife and I live down the road from here in Pella. Only recently did we find out that there was a huge learning center and you could go see LIVE Bison and Elk. We had a great time!

It starts with a very nice drive in, it was winter when we went but I can only imagine how pretty it must be in the spring with hundreds of acres of flowers in bloom and waving prairie grasses. It's a 4.5 mile drive from hwy 163 to the learning center. The whole place, refuge and learning center is bigger than I expected. Inside they had a theater that plays an intro video when requested. It give you background info about prairies and what they do there. When you leave the theater, it directs you right into the educational exhibits. Some about prairies, some about what the National fish and wildlife board do there, some about Native Americans and early European settlers. A few of the exhibits are a bit dated but still informative.

They have a really nice bookstore there with more than just souvenirs for kids to buy. Field guides, books on art, Iowa history, Native Americans, and nature themed gifts.

After you tour the center you can hike the miles of trails or take the auto tour in you can right through the 700 acres where the Elk and Bison live.

We'll visit again in the spring!

Visited December 2012
Helpful?
Thank Luke_Skyhawker
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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