Open Spaces: Recreation Magnets: National Wildlife Refuges

Recreation Magnets: National Wildlife Refuges

By Susan Morse

Thrill to world-class recreation on your national wildlife refuges during National Wildlife Refuge Week, Oct. 14 - 20 − or at any season of the year.

Like to fish, hunt, hike or paddle? You’ll find it all on national wildlife refuges.

fishing-day(Photo: Megan Nagel/USFWS)

You can also birdwatch or practice wildlife photography or snowshoe or stalk wild mushrooms on many refuges across the country.

Here’s an added bonus: often-breathtaking scenery in unspoiled natural areas. While you’re on a refuge, you may also see thrilling natural spectacles such as hundreds of snow geese and sandhill cranes erupting in flight or hear elk bugling to attract mates. Most recreational activities cost little or nothing beyond required state license fees.

refuges-hikingHiking at Bosque Del Apache Refuge (Photo: USFWS)

Find your favorite recreation ­– and the best refuge to do it − at www.fws.gov/refuges.

Get started!

Here’s where to find:

  • the best fishing on refuges: www.fws.gov/refuges/fishingguide/. Dream of fly fishing for trout? Catching salmon in Alaska or bass in Georgia? The online guide can help you. It’s searchable by state, species, region and amenities (such as boat launches and rest facilities). More than 270 refuges and 38 wetland management districts are open to fishing; more than 7 million anglers visit refuges each year. Many refuges host free learn-to-fish events for youngsters each year.
  • the best birding on refuges: http://www.fws.gov/refuges/birding. Refuges protect more than 700 bird species, from bald eagles to roseate spoonbills, and host spectacular bird festivals and bird counts. Many provide spotting scopes, checklists and other help in identifying birds. No wonder refuges are beloved by birders, from beginners on up.
  • the best hiking and paddling on refuges: www.fws.gov/refuges/trails/index.cfm. Explore more than 2,500 miles of land and water trails.
  • other fun on refuges: www.fws.gov/refuges/about/FunOnWildlifeRefuges/

Discover a whole new universe, right in your backyard.

Susan Morse is a writer–editor in the Refuge System’s Branch of Communications

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Last updated: June 21, 2012