(41 miles to Tassel Ridge Winery)
Only 21 miles west of Newton and 20 miles east of Des Moines, the refuge is one of the largest prairie reconstruction projects in the United States. Set among the rolling hills of south central Iowa, nearly 6,000 acres has been restored to create tallgrass prairie and oak savanna ecosystems, the native plant and animal communities which existed in central Iowa prior to Euro-American settlement in the 1840s. The Prairie Learning and Visitor Center facilities include a book store, theater, classrooms and exhibit area. Miles of trails radiate from the Visitor Center. In addition, an 800-acre drive-through bison and elk enclosure is open to the public (though you must remain in your car). Teacher workshops, birding, hiking, biking, mushrooming, and wildlife watching are some of the outdoor activities featured for tens of thousands of visitors each year.