National Wildlife Refuge
|36289 State Highway 65
McGregor, MN 55760
Phone Number: 218-768-2402
|Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
|Rice Lake is known for its tremendous number of ring-necked ducks.|
Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge
The 18,208-acre Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1935 and is located in the scenic forest and bog area of northern Minnesota. Visitors can enjoy a range of habitats, including lake, river, bog and hardwood forest.
The Refuge's history centers around the 4,500-acre Rice Lake which, for thousands of years, has supplied an abundant wild rice crop. Each fall, the bountiful rice attracts hundreds of thousands of waterfowl, as well as American Indians who harvest it using traditional methods. Rice Lake is known for its tremendous number of ring-necked ducks. Because of the high concentrations of migratory birds, Rice Lake Refuge has been designated as a Globally Important Bird Area by the American Birding Association.
The 2,045-acre Sandstone Unit of Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge was acquired in 1970 through a land exchange with the U.S. Department of Justice. Sandstone is located in central Minnesota, in an area once known for expanses of towering white pine forests. Today, visitors enjoy a rustic and natural setting that includes a portion of the Wild and Scenic Kettle River. Birders will find plentiful neo-tropical migrants in the spring and fall. Sandstone's wildlife includes black bear, sandhill cranes, white-tailed deer and songbirds.
The one-half-acre Mille Lacs National Wildlife Refuge, located in Mille Lacs Lake, is also administered from Rice Lake Refuge.
Getting There . . .
The refuge is located five miles south of McGregor, MN, on State Highway 65. The refuge is a one-hour drive from Duluth, Brainerd and Grand Rapids, MN, and a two-hour drive north of the Twin Cities Metro area.
The Sandstone Unit is located approximately two miles southeast of Sandstone, MN, or 80 miles northeast of the Twin Cities, off Interstate 35. From Sandstone, follow the signs to the Federal Correctional Facility (Hwy 123 east, across the Kettle River, to County Road 29, south to County Road 20 east) then follow the Sandstone signs (right on Nature Ave). Two parking areas are located off of Nature Ave.
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Refuge staff use prescribed fires to maintain open grassland areas to provide nesting habitat for grassland birds. In the future, selective logging may be used to assist with red and white pine restoration projects. Several biological research projects are on-going, focusing primarily on the water quality and wild rice production of Rice Lake.