McPherson Journals

Buffalo and Elk on the Prairie

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An October 2000 trip to McPherson by Casual Tourist

Maxwell Wildlife Refuge Photo, McPherson, Kansas More Photos
Quote: We heard that Maxwell Wildlife Refuge and McPherson State Lake were something to see -- so we went and we saw, and it was -- something to see, that is!

Buffalo and Elk on the Prairie

Overview

Maxwell Wildlife Refuge Photo, McPherson, Kansas
Quote:
The highlight of our visit to Maxwell Wildlife Refuge was being in the right place at the right time to see one of the herd of elk. We spotted them as soon as we arrived at the observation tower. But first we encountered some of the 200 head herd of buffalo as we drove onto the reserve. Magnificently large and hairy, they were not the least interested in posing for me, being content to keep their heads lowered into the grass they were eating.Quick Tips: I'd suggest visiting this refuge in September or early October as this is when the elk are rutting. Also, you may want to call ahead to find out if and when any special functions may be going on at adjacent McPherson State Lake. ...Read More

McPherson State Fishing Lake

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Attraction

McPherson State Fishing Lake Photo, McPherson, Kansas
Quote:
Absolutely great camping place. We've visited many lakes in central Kansas. As far as size goes, McPherson is one of the smallest we've been to, but in my opinion there were more campers here than at other sites we've been to.

McPherson is a fairly quiet area and it was nice to hear the elk calls so close by. We also saw several vehicles pulling horse trailers and several people on horses. There is plenty of open prairie for riding. I believe it is a case of "bring your own" though as I did not see any evidence of stables on the site.

If you're looking for a great primitive camping area with lots of wildlife around, McPherson should be something you check out.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 28, 2000

McPherson State Fishing Lake
2577 Pueblo Rd
McPherson, Kansas
(620) 628-4592

Maxwell Wildlife Refuge

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Attraction | "Buffalo and Elk on the Prairie"

Maxwell Wildlife Refuge Photo, McPherson, Kansas
Quote:
The wildlife refuge was rather quiet this late in the season. We had heard that it was possible to drive through the reserve to view the bison and elk housed there, but this was not the case. There was a section of road, about 1/4 of a mile long I'd say, that actually did pass through the refuge on which the wildlife could have been encountered had it been in that area. Apparently, tram tours that take one through the refuge are available, but when we visited this part of the facility was closed. I couldn't find any information about when the tours ran or what the cost was. We did see 50 or more bison, many of which were close to the road leading to the refuge. At one point I appro...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 28, 2000

Maxwell Wildlife Refuge
2577 Pueblo Rd
McPherson, Kansas 67248
(620) 628-4592

Gypsum Creek Nature Trail

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Attraction

Gypsum Creek Nature Trail Photo, McPherson, Kansas
Quote:
This was a really marvelous trail. It wound along Gypsum Creek, running sometimes on the bluff above the creek and at other times so close to the creek that if you didn't mind the algae you could take a dip. At the start of the trail one can pick up a small pamphlet that explains many of the things seen on the course of your hike. There are lettered guideposts that keep you on track.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 28, 2000

Gypsum Creek Nature Trail
2577 Pueblo Rd
McPherson, Kansas

White-tailed deer on Nature Trail

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Story/Tip

Deer on Nature Trail Photo, McPherson, Kansas
Quote:
The planets must have been lined up just right for us on October 22nd. First we got such a close look at the herd of elk and then on the nature trail we were surprised by a white-tailed deer. We were on the return route when I motioned my husband to stop for a moment to listen to the frogs croaking. Just then we heard a loud splash and both turned instantly to look behind us. Not 100 feet away a white-tailed deer was splashing through a marshy area of the creek. It bounced through the tall grass toward the southwest and then turned and stared at us for a moment before bounding off toward a nearby thicket. I was thrilled, as was my husband. Something so unexpected but hoped for. Isn't this ...Read More
Maxwell Wildlife Refuge Photo, McPherson, Kansas
Quote:
Atop the highest point at the refuge is an observation tower for locating where the wildlife might be grazing. The tower provides a wonderful view of the majority of the refuge. Even as late in the season as it was when we visited, several other visitors arrived at the tower while we were there. Beside this two-story tower is a sandstone information booth with a plaque attached to one side. Here visitors are informed about the history of this refuge -- how it is dedicated to the first white child known to have been born in the area. A glass case under the information booth displayed information about the refuge, but most of it seemed to be outdated and imcomplete. Though I was impr...Read More

Ever See an Osage Orange?

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Story/Tip

Gypsum Creek Nature Trail Photo, McPherson, Kansas
Quote:
One of the oddest tree fruits prevalent in much of Kansas is the Osage Orange, commonly known by the populace as Hedge Apples. Now, to me, both the words orange and apple imply something that can be eaten. However, there is no eating for the Osage Orange. Big, bright green and for the most part useless, these fruits fall from their trees in autumn. They are fascinating to look at. After doing a little research the only use for the fruit that I could find is that the pioneers used to cut them open and set them around their homes to repel flies. Osage Orange trees, on the other hand, provide a good windbreak across the prairie and also an excellent habitate for wildlife. The trees are r...Read More

More Nature Trail Adventures

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Story/Tip

Along the Trail Photo, McPherson, Kansas
Quote:
There was much to see on the nature trail. I think that I might have missed much of it in my younger days, especially if my children had been along. As it was just my husband and I taking the trek, we took our time, listened and observed things around us. As the trail passed alongside Gypsum Creek I noticed a small song sparrow flitting around amid the gammagrass. What a sweet little bird. Further along, as the path turned toward the creek again, my husband spotted a freshly dug animal burrow. There weren't any tracks nearby, so we couldn't tell what had dug this burrow, but it could have been any number of species that call the park home. Two items brought to our ...Read More

Buffalo Crossing

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Story/Tip

Maxwell Wildlife Refuge Photo, McPherson, Kansas
Quote:
As the year 2000 wound rapidly to a close we paid a return visit to Maxwell Game Refuge to see what was afoot. It was a bright day and the ground was covered with crisp white snow. Gone were the campers and fishermen and all seemed quiet on this prairie refuge except for a few other tourists out for a cold winter drive. As we drove around the bend from McPherson State Fishing lake toward the refuge we noticed a buffalo standing in the road ahead. Cautiously approaching the area, we stopped the car facing another vehicle also stopped. And then we were allowed an extraordinary experience -- the buffalo herd had just begun crossing from one side of the road to the other. Many of them passed wi...Read More