The Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge headquarters is located in Columbia, Missouri at the U.S. Geological Survey Columbia Environmental Research Center. No staffed visitor facilities exist on the refuge. Headquarters office open Monday-Friday, 7:30 am -4:30 pm, except holidays. Please call first to confirm someone is available to meet with you.
Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge
4200 New Haven Rd.
Columbia, MO 65201
In Columbia, take Highway 63 to the AC/Grindstone Parkway exit. Turn east onto New Haven Rd, which will be a right if you are coming from the south or a left if you are coming in from the north. You will soon pass New Haven School. Continue straight approximately one half mile. The Columbia Environmental Research Center will be on your right. Turn right into the third (last) driveway of the center. Continue through the gate and the parking lot, turn left at the Big Muddy NFWR shop to the headquarters office. The gate is open Monday through Friday 7:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Located in Missouri at eleven separate units along the final 367 miles of the Missouri River, the refuge currently manages approximately 16,700 acres for the benefit of wildlife. Nicknamed the Big Muddy, the Missouri Rivers muddy waters provide the lifeline for the refuges’ wildlife. The river’s historic ability to carve out wetlands, side channels and sloughs within its floodplain greatly benefited wildlife. Alterations to the river restricted its ability to create this habitat. The refuge provides an area for the river to recreate this habitat in some of its units. All the refuges units are open to the public and many have at least one parking facility and informational kiosk. Some units have trails, scour lakes for fishing and all are open to hunting and wildlife viewing. 1. Jackass Bend Unit2. Baltimore Bottom Unit3. Cranberry Bend Unit4. Cambridge Bend Unit5. Jameson Island Unit6. Lisbon Bottom Unit7. Overton Bottoms North Unit8. Overton Bottoms South Unit9. St. Auberts Island Unit10. Boone’s Crossing Unit11. Cora Island UnitVisitors should visit the Jameson Island Unit adjacent to the historic community of Arrow Rock, Missouri. Here you can hike the Lewis and Clark Trail of Discovery and learn about the history and habitat of the area from interpretive signs along the trail. The one mile hike ends along the banks of the Missouri River.To experience the floodplain forest, visitors can hike the 3.2 mile Little Muddy loop trail at the Overton Bottoms North Unit. For a unique fishing experience try the I-70 scour lake. This 38 acre lake scoured out by the river during the flood of 1993 is along Interstate 70 at the Overton Bottoms North Unit. While motorists zoom by, you can enjoy the opportunity to catch numerous different species of fish including bass, crappie, catfish and carp.
When planning a trip to the refuge, it is important to wear appropriate footwear, sturdy shoes for land excursions and to dress for the weather. Consider bringing water, food, binoculars, field guides, a hat, sunscreen, insect repellent and anything else that might make the outdoor experience more enjoyable. Many of the refuge units are subject to flooding resulting from precipitation miles upstream. Visitors should monitor predicted river levels before venturing out on the refuge by visiting this website. Navigate to the gauge closest to the unit you are visiting. Don't put yourself in a life threatening situation by quickly rising floodwaters.
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Habitats along the Missouri River are in constant fluctuation as seasonal floods and droughts bring about drastic changes.