The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge (Refuge) is one of more than 500 National Wildlife Refuges managed by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the purposes of preserving native American wildlife. Originally set aside in 1901 as the Wichita Forest Reserve by President William McKinley, the Refuge was renamed in 1905 by Theodore Roosevelt as the Wichita Game Preserve. On June 4, 1936, Congress officially designated this unique area the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.
The Refuge is located in southwest Oklahoma and covers an area of more than 59,000 acres. The remarkable landscape is dominated by rugged granite mountains, oak forests, and mixed grass prairies. These unspoiled lands provide excellent habitat and protection for herds of bison and elk, and for numerous other native and migratory species. The preservation of this valuable system of grasslands and prairie herds is the purpose of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.
The 22,400 acre public use portion of the Refuge offers visitors the opportunity to broaden their knowledge and appreciation of the natural environment through direct exposure to wildlife and wildlands. Permitted recreational uses such as hiking, camping, rock climbing, fishing, and wildlife observation provide the public an opportunity to gain a renewed appreciation for and commitment to the value of environmental stewardship.
Within the public use area of the Refuge lies the 5,700 acres Charons Garden Wilderness Area, which received special designation by Congress under the Wilderness Act of 1964. This remote, pristine environment offers Refuge visitors a chance to discover the solitude and adventure offered by wilderness lands.