This is the oldest wildlife refuge in the country and is home to thriving herds of longhorn, elk and bison as well as a well-stocked prairie dog town. We went for the prairie dogs, but were blown away by the scenery. There is no entry fee, the visitor center is beautiful and full of exhibits with a small store that offers many local ID books. There is a family campground, (first come, first served), a youth campground that can be reserved and backcountry camping along the trails at Charon’s Garden via permit.
There are miles of trails as well as plenty to see from the road while driving through. This would be an excellent trip for a family with younger or older who don’t want to walk a long ways, but still want to see animals and scenery. It’s also an excellent trip for folks who do want to get out and walk a while. We only planned a day during a road trip in May, but fully intend to return for a much longer stay. But, even with just a full day, we hiked and saw animals and views galore, it’s well worth the detour on a trip. It’s not on any major roads, which makes it less crowded. The ‘worst’ of the crowds (on a gorgeous sunny warm Saturday) were on Mt. Scott, the highest point in the park accessible by driving to the top.
We arrived early, having stayed the night before at an airbnb (our first!) and stayed until late afternoon.
The prairie dog town was right near the parking area and there were several more scattered through the park. They did not seem bothered by the noise or traffic or people.
Charon’s Garden was amazing!
As was the view from Mt. Scott
There’s so much more to see and trails to hike, early May was perfect for the combo of weather, baby prairie dogs, wildflowers and baby bison!