A Visit to the Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Oklahoma…

We were spending the day with our Grandson and decided to take him with us to the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, as it is known locally.

The Preserve itself consists of 39,650 acres on which 2500 Bison are free to roam. At one time, the Tallgrass Prairie spanned 14 states from Texas to Minnesota, but now has been reduced to approximately 4% of its original size. To date, this is the largest intact section left.

These Bison are carefully managed as is the prairie itself. Prescribed burns occur periodically throughout the year since wildfires are a natural part of the prairie environment.

Just driving through the area takes you back in time. There are sections where no powerlines or fences can be seen. It gives one a small sense of what this area used to look like.

Technology meets History. Down in the draw is a small group of Bison and way off in the distance on the skyline are windmills. This area was burned not too long ago as the remnants are still visible in the foreground as is the new growth.

The previous blog post was a video we took that shows the best part of the trip. Below will be the still photos to show some of the other things we encountered.

The Prairie
Wide Open Spaces
Small group of Bison

This time of year, the bulls are usually solitary or in bachelor groups. All of the really big bulls that we saw were alone and way off in the distance.

2 Bulls that were just inside the boundary.
Our Grandson really enjoyed the trip.
Always hand a child a pair of binoculars…it pays dividends and adds to a great learning experience.

Our primary objective was to visit the main ranch complex and tour the Visitors Center but it has been closed since 30 March 2020 due to COVID.

Right side of the bunkhouse.
Left side of the bunkhouse.

Throughout the course of the 15 mile trip to the Visitor Center, we gave a history lesson of both the American bison (Bison bison) and the Tallgrass Prairie to our Grandson. We stopped often and let him use his binoculars to see the Bison that were in the distance. Eventually we found 2 groups converging at a road junction that were close enough to give him a really good look at them.

Most of the young females had calves with them which was great to see.

We had a great trip and plan on including our Grandson more often. It was good to share our passion for nature with him and he was able to see us pick up trash from along the road which allowed for us to explain our ethics and stewardship of the land. He got a kick out of us telling him that “we don’t own the land, we are only borrowing it from future generations.” And as such…we don’t want him to inherit a landscape full of trash. We strive to leave it cleaner than when we found it.

I hope you enjoyed the photos. Have a great weekend.

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