Begin your visit at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. Helpful staff at the Visitor Center information desk can orient you to the trail system, the 9-mile self-guided Wildlife Drive auto tour, upcoming nature programs and more. Trail/Wildlife Drive maps are available at the Visitor Center and the Visitor Center parking lot kiosk located on the south side of the building.
Spend some time exploring the exhibit hall to learn about the site’s unique history and wildlife that calls the Refuge home. Don’t miss the Discovery Room next to the auditorium at the end of the building, which features seasonal, hands-on wildlife activities for the young and young at heart. Off the back patio is a 200-seat amphitheater with a stage and fire pit.
As you enter the Refuge, signs will direct you to the 9-mile self-guided Wildlife Drive. A car symbol and arrow will help guide you along the route. If you haven’t already picked up a Trail/Wildlife Drive map at the Visitor Center, additional maps are available at the kiosk, along with a scavenger hunt for kids. Visitors must exit their vehicle at the kiosk and read the posted bulletin board for important information, rules and regulations, and updates.
The Wildlife Drive is for motorized vehicles only. Please be aware that visitors must stay in their vehicle while traveling through the bison enclosure, which is marked with signs and cattle guards. Please be sure to follow and obey all signage including “Area Closed Signs”. You may see vehicles in “closed areas” beyond the Wildlife Drive – these are employees driving to and from their work sites on the Refuge.
More than 80 bison roam the Refuge and the Wildlife Drive auto tour provides a great opportunity to see North America's largest mammal and symbol of the west. Please remember bison are wild and unpredictable animals so please stay in your vehicle at all times. If bison are blocking the road, please give them plenty of space, be patient, and enjoy the view. Honking your car horn or using your vehicle to divide the herd is not permitted at any time.
The Contact Station is an educational facility that provides youth groups and educators the ability to conduct self-guided field trips and programs. It contains all the tools and resources needed to compliment educational programs and is a great gateway to the lakes and trail system on the Refuge.
On the south side of the Contact Station parking lot is an information kiosk with Refuge brochures. From mid-April to mid-October, the Refuge’s fishing permit, rules and regulations, and fee envelopes to pay the $3.00 daily fishing fee are found here. Next to the kiosk is an “iron ranger”, where fishing fee envelopes are deposited. Anglers, please be sure to carry with you a signed copy of the Refuge’s Fishing Permit, Rules, and Regulations, and receipt for your fishing fee. The fishing season is closed mid-October through mid-April.
Behind the Contact Station, and just down the road, are a few gravel parking areas to access Lake Mary. There is also a port-o-let at the north edge of the lake across from the amphitheater and close to handicap parking spaces.
Lake Mary is an easy ½ mile hiking trail featuring a floating boardwalk, two piers and two amphitheaters.
Just up the hill from Lake Mary, at the top of the dam, is a paved lot for additional parking and easy access to Lake Ladora and hiking trails. A restroom is located in the corner of the parking lot.
Lake Ladora is a 1.8 mile loop, and like Lake Mary, it too has a floating boardwalk, located along the east side of the lake. Fishing is not allowed from the boardwalk.
Along the Wildlife Drive on the south side of Lake Ladora is a paved parking lot to access Lake Ladora, Prairie, Woodlands and Havana Ponds trails. Additional restrooms are located here.
Near the end of the Havana Ponds Trail is a small wildlife blind facing the wetland for excellent viewing and photography of seasonal water and shore birds for visitors to use.
At the end of the Rod and Gun Club Trail there is a large wildlife blind sitting at the edge of a small wetland and nestled among the trees. It is a great place for spotting and photographing wildlife moving through the mid-grass prairie, wetland, and woodlands.
This gravel parking lot is the most remote on the Wildlife Drive and it provides access to the Bluestem Loop trail. It is also the turn-around loop for the Wildlife Drive. This lot offers views of the open prairie and the bald eagle nest site, which can be seen on the opposite side of the road looking northeast. The nest is most visible during the winter months.
Photo Credit: USFWS
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Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge was established, in part, to protect our national symbol, the bald eagle.