Places to Visit—Quivira National Wildlife Refuge

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color photo of salt flat adjacent to grassland
small drawing of Kansas map with Stafford County highlighted in red

Stafford County, Kansas

Despite their inhospitable appearance, the salt marshes at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge provide food, cover, and a resting place for thousands of migrating waterfowl each year. Over 250 bird species have been spotted at the Stafford County refuge. Underlying the surface deposits of windblown dune sand is the Great Bend Prairie aquifer, water-bearing deposits of sand and gravel. In the vicinity of Big Salt Marsh, pictured here, the natural saltwater in the bedrock is forced to the surface. As the water evaporates, salt concentrations increase. The average salinity at Big Salt Marsh ranges from 5,000 to 10,000 parts per million (ppm), which is considerably lower than that of seawater (19,000 ppm), but much greater than the upper limit for drinking water (250 ppm). To get to Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, take 4th Avenue west from Hutchinson for 28 miles, then turn north on County Road 973, which brings you to the refuge headquarters and visitor's center (from The Geologic Record, vol. 5.2).

Other places to visit in the Arkansas River Lowlands of Kansas.

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