Explore the Smoky Hills with KNPS
By Brad Guhr

Our KNPS spring/summer board meeting at Dyck Arboretum of the Plains in Hesston, KS (1:00-3:00 p.m.) on May 17, 2019 will be followed by an outing to a diverse Harvey County prairie from roughly 3:30-5:30 and dinner at a local establishment. Please join us!

Bison are at home on the range at Maxwell Wildlife Reserve where you can view them up close and personal via a protected tram. Photo by Brad Guhr.

The interesting outings will continue the next day, Saturday May, 18, 2019, as we visit prairies of McPherson County in the Smoky Hills. Enjoy a day of prairie exploration, bison viewing, short hike to a spring, scenic vistas, and stories of the Chisholm Trail while visiting three different prairies that will weave together the natural and cultural history of Kansas. This day includes:

  • 9:00 a.m. prairie walk at Susan Reimer's “Buffalo Hill” where moderate winter grazing and fire are used to maintain prairie health and a high diversity of flora and fauna (5 miles north of Canton to Pioneer Road and 27th Avenue, go west on Pioneer Road to dead-end parking area); NOTE: check back to this page for updates about muddy road conditions and access.

Wildflowers in May abound on "BUFFALO HILL"
Pictured are; Narrow-Leaf Blue-Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium),
Plains Wild Indigo (Baptisia bracteata), Bird's-Foot Violet (Viola pedata)


  • 11 a.m. guided bison tram tour to view ranging bison and elk ($12 per person) on 2,500 acres at Maxwell Wildlife Refuge Headquarters (2565 Pueblo Rd., a mile north of Buffalo Hill as the crow flies or 3 driving miles) followed by a noon soup, salad and dessert lunch at Maxwell Headquarters ($8 lunch). Species-rich prairie is easily accessible around the headquarters. NOTE: If conditions are muddy, the bison tour tram may continue as scheduled.

A small bison calf peeks at us from center herd. Calves are a rusty red and are frequently seen on the bison tour at Maxwell Reserve, McPherson County, Kansas. Photo by Brad Guhr


  • 1:30 p.m. Enjoy a walking tour of the diverse remnant prairies at Maxwell Wildlife Refuge surrounding McPherson State Fishing Lake as well as take in the Smoky Hills vista view from the iconic observation tower. You will see the geographic landmarks that were part of battles making some of the cultural history of the area. (Note: This is a Plan B replacing the Plan A prairie tour at Elm Springs-Box Canyon which is inaccessible due to the recent extensive rains.)

View South from observation tower, Maxwell Reserve, McPherson County, Kansas.

View from the observation tower at Maxwell Reserve, McPherson County, Kansas. Photo by Brad Guhr

Wildflowers typically seen late spring at Maxwell Reserve, McPherson County, Kansas
. Photo by Brad Guhr


RSVP for Maxwell bison $12 tram tour and $8 lunch to
Betty Schmidt (620-628-4455 by Wednesday, May 15 (reservations are limited). Contact Brad Guhr with general questions about the two days 316-217-4566.