Kirwin National Wildlife Refuge

Lots of waterfowl here!  Located in the Smoky Hills, U-shaped Kirwin Reservoir is formed by Bow Creek and the North Fork of the Solomon River.

Kirwin National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1954, is the first National Wildlife Refuge authorized in Kansas. The refuge of nearly 11,000 acres is in the Central Flyway and one of the last major feeding stops for waterfowl migrating between wintering areas to the south and their northern breeding grounds. It includes the lake, riparian woodlands, nearly 4,000 acres of mixed grass prairie, and about 2,000 acres of cultivated land, which provides nearly 20,000 bushels of corn and milo every year to migrating birds and other wildlife. Management practices also include green winter wheat browse for wintering geese, controlled burning, and short-term intensive grazing to maintain the grasslands.

Stop by the Visitor Center (red star on map below) for information and a look at the interpretive exhibits.  The Visitor Center is open 7:30 AM - 4:00 PM Monday-Friday, except holidays.

A colony of black-tailed prairie dogs is on the south side of lake (B on map below).  Use one of the benches available to observe these fascinating members of the rodent family.  While there, also look for thirteen-lined ground squirrels, black-tailed jackrabbits, mule deer, burrowing owls, horned larks, kingbirds, meadowlarks, kestrels, and red-tailed hawks. Double-crested cormorants and great blue herons nest on the lake. Yellow-headed blackbirds frequent marsh areas, and black-billed magpies forage in the open woodlands. Walk quietly on the nature trail and you may see wild turkey, white-tailed deer and, in summer, a variety of butterflies visiting the diverse array of wildflowers. Any time of year drive slowly in the evenings and early mornings along the roads north of the lake and you will see an amazing number of deer. Migrations bring thousands of shorebirds, wading birds, geese, ducks, white pelicans, and Franklin's gulls to the lake. Winter brings rough-legged hawks, golden and bald eagles, and thousands of mallards and Canada geese.

bulletRestroom, Boat Ramps

Camping iconCamping not allowed.

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Trail icon1/2 mile hard-surfaced nature trail in the Crappie Point area (A on map below)

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Kirwin NWR map

From Glade (54 miles north of Hays) go 6 miles east on K-9, then 1 mile south on the county road to the Visitor Center (red star). Maps and checklists are available.

Location in Kansas

For a Google Map of this area,
click here.

Ownership: The entity responsible for management of Kirwin NWR is below.
Contact them if you have specific questions about use or management of the site.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (785) 543-6673; 10,778 acres
You may learn more from the FWS web site for Kirwin.
Also check out the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation website for Kirwin Reservoir.

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The Natural Kansas web site © 2011 by
the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism.

Re-publication of site content in any form other than for personal use requires written permission.  If you are a Kansas resident, please assist with this and other wildlife viewing and conservation programs by contributing to the Chickadee Checkoff on your state tax form.

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