Quivira National Wildlife Refuge

Many different water birds may be found here
Waders and peeps at Big Salt Marsh
- All photos by Jim Mason

First-time visitors to this refuge are surprised to discover the abundance and diversity of wildlife.  The refuge spans 22,135 acres, one third of which are wetlands.  It was designated as a Wetland of International Importance in 2002 by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlandsone of two such sites in the state - the other being Cheyenne Bottoms.

The bird checklist for Quivira documents over 300 species.  Nesting birds include 11 species of waterfowl as well as American avocets, least terns, white-faced ibis and snowy plovers.

Adult and juvenile avocets.
American avocets breed at Quivira

Wild turkeys find food and cover along the shelterbelts. Waterfowl may reach over 100,000 in the fall and 300,000 in the spring.  This is perhaps the best location in Kansas to see sandhill cranes during migration.  Their endangered cousins - the whooping cranes - will stop over here also.  Look for them as well as white pelicans, greater and lesser yellowlegs, long-billed dowitchers, black-necked stilts, and several species of sandpipers.  Summer raptors include Swainson's hawks, Mississippi kites, northern harriers, and red-tailed hawks. Bald eagles and golden eagles winter on the refuge.  Mammals are also abundant.  Look for white-tailed deer, raccoon, badger, bobcat, coyote, red fox and black-tailed prairie dogs.

Little Salt Marsh, north of the refuge headquarters, is a good place to see waterfowl, grebes, and herons.  A photo blind has been placed at the far south end, accessible by a 1/4 mile mowed trail.  Another photo blind is on a small wetland by the Migrant's Mile Nature Trail, located 3 miles north of Little Salt Marsh.

Rest stop along the trail.

The Migrant's Mile Nature Trail includes two long boardwalks through cattail wetlands.

The best wildlife viewing, however, is usually along the wildlife drive at the north end of the refuge in Big Salt Marsh. The one-way gravel road takes visitors through the marshes and along the cattail-bordered lakes. American bitterns and yellow-headed blackbirds can often be photographed at close range from your vehicle.  The far west end of Big Salt Marsh is the favorite place within the refuge for migrating sandhill cranes in the fall.  Tens of thousands of them are present at peak times.  Be watching also for lizards, water turtles and snakes.  Massasauga rattlesnakes like to sun on the roads in the warmer seasons.

How do you measure up to a Whooping Crane? Interactive displays promote learning.

The informative displays in the headquarters/visitor center tell the story of the refuge.

bulletRestroom and drinking fountain in the visitor center.

Camping iconCamping not allowed.

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Trail icon Birdhouse Boulevard Nature Trail (0.2 mile concrete surfaced loop just west of the visitor center); Migrant's Mile Nature Trail (1.25 mile loop - 0.75 mile is wheelchair accessible); Little Salt Marsh photo blind trail (0.3 mile), Wildlife Drive (5.15 mile loop)

Click here to get county birding lists for Kansas. Click the icon to find a birding list for Stafford County.

Find nearby Geocaches! Click the icon to locate nearby Geocaches

The Friends of Quivira organization helps support the development of the refuge.
Visit their website to learn more!

Wetlands and Wildlife Scenic Byway Logo
The Wetlands and Wildlife National Scenic Byway travels by both Quivira National Wildlife Refuge
and Cheyenne Bottoms.

For a taste of what Quivira National Wildlife Refuge has to offer,
watch this beautiful video from Mike Blair of
Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks!
For more videos from this series, see the KDWP website.


Quivira National Wildlife Refuge map

Directions: From Hutchinson (40 miles NW of Wichita on K-96) travel west 14 miles on U.S. 50 to K-14, north 5 miles to 4th street, west 17 miles to 140th street west and north 1 mile to the refuge headquarters (red dot on map).

The headquarters is open M-F 7:30 AM - 4:00 PM.  Stop here to pick up a map, find out where recent bird sightings have been and get a bird checklist.

The refuge itself is open dawn to dusk.

Location in Kansas

For a Google Map of this site, click here.

Ownership: The US Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for management of Quivira.  Contact them at (620) 486-2393 if you have specific questions about use or management of the site.
Click here to visit their web site.

22,135 acres

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Funded by the Chickadee Checkoff Program
Chickadee Checkoff logo
Click here for a brochure!

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.

Questions or comments about Natural Kansas may be directed to
Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism