Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge, off SR 38, 2 mi. s. of jct. SRs 11 and 38 at 71189 Harper Rd., is a 32,158-acre refuge. The area, once valued for its thin covering of salt, draws visitors who dig for selenite crystals on the salt flats. Visitors are allowed to dig in areas designated with orange “Dig Area” signs only.
The dam on the Salt Fork of the Arkansas River has transformed much of the area into the Great Salt Plains Lake. The salt flats, among the largest in the Midwest, are west of the lake. Migratory birds, beavers, coyotes and deer are residents.
The Eagle Roost Nature Trail at refuge headquarters is a self-guiding walk through habitats that shelter various species living in the refuge. Visitors also can take a 2.5-mile automobile tour route near the nature trail. Just east of the refuge is Great Salt Plains Lake State Park.
Note: Visitors must remain in areas designated for public use; driving on the salt flats is prohibited. Allow 2 hours minimum for the nature trail and 4 hours minimum for the crystal area.