Visitor Activities

Visitors Activities
  • Birding


    Listed as a “Globally Important Bird Area” by the American Bird Conservancy, Cypress Creek offers some of the best birding in the Midwest. The refuge is home to over 230 species of birds, including Black Vultures, Pileated Woodpeckers, the state endangered Barn owl, Snowy Egrets, Yellow and Black Crowned Night Herons, Little Blue Herons, Hooded Mergansers, and Wood Ducks just to name a few. Thirty species of warblers are can also be found on the refuge including those with southern affinities such as the yellow-throated, hooded, prairie, and prothonotary warblers.

  • Boating

    Boating thumb

    Boating is a popular activity on the refuge. There are many waterways featuring a diversity of habitats located throughout the refuge that are appropriate for canoeing, kayaking, and flatboats. Individuals wishing to get out on the water may bring their own boats or consider renting a boat and/or guide services from White Crane Canoe rental. Schools or other Educational groups may also arrange a guided canoe tour through the refuge; visit our Educators page for more information. Visit our maps page for dock locations and marked routes.

    Learn More
  • Hunting

    Hunting Thumb

    Hunting and fishing opportunities are abundant within the refuge. The area includes a diversity of habitats from floodplain and upland forests, to deep water swamps and shallow wetlands, to agriculture and early successional fields. These areas support waterfowl, deer, turkey, squirrels, rabbits and other game species. For information on rules and regulations for hunting on the Refuge, please visit our Rules and Regulations page or contact the Refuge office.

    Learn More
  • Fishing

    Fishing Thumb

    Refuge ponds and the Cache River provide opportunities to fish along the bank or in a small boat on the river. Associated wetlands and backwater sloughs also offer high quality areas to catch crappie, bass, bluegill and other fish throughout the year. Four boat ramps within refuge boundary provide opportunities to access and explore the Cache River. To find out more about locations, contact the Refuge. 

    Learn More
  • Wildlife Viewing

    Wildlife Viewing Thumb

    While only a small part of the land area in Illinois, the Cypress Creek/Cache River basin harbors 11.5% of the State's high quality floodplain forests and 91% of the State's high quality swamp/wetland communities! The Refuge shelters 100 state threatened or endangered species and seven federally threatened or endangered species. With such diversity, the refuge provides many opportunities to watch wildlife on land and water. It is an important resting, nesting, and feeding habitat for waterfowl and a diversity of other migratory and wading birds. Other resident wildlife include deer, squirrels, foxes, mink, as well as, bobcats, river otters, and a host of frogs and toads, turtles and snakes. For a particularly spectacular view, why not stop over at the Bellrose Waterfowl Preserve Viewing Platform?

  • Photography

    Photography thumb

    Perhaps the fastest growing activity on national wildlife refuges in the past ten years has been wildlife photography. That’s not surprising – the digital camera population explosion and cell phones with ever-improving picture-taking abilities are increasing the number of nature photographers at a rapid rate.  You don’t need to purchase expensive equipment or have any experience to get started.  A small camera or basic cell phone will do just fine for most visitors.

    Nearly 12 million people visit outdoor areas each year to photograph wildlife, and national wildlife refuges naturally are at the top of the list. Refuges provide enhanced opportunities to photograph wildlife in natural habitats by providing platforms, brochures, interpreters, viewing areas and tour routes.  Wildlife photography is a high-priority activity in the Refuge System. We welcome beginning and expert photographers alike to record their outdoor adventures on film, memory card or internal hard drive! 

  • Interpretation

    Cypress Creek Canoe Interpretation

    Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge and the Cache River State Natural area work together to host a variety of special events and educational programs throughout the year. Programs and events are free, geared for youth and adults and provide a range of opportunities that maximize first-hand experiences along the river and trails in the Cypress Creek/Cache River Wetlands. Contact the refuge, or visit our Friends site for more information about upcoming programs and the calendar of events.

    Learn More
  • Environmental Education

    EE Thumb

    National Wildlife Refuges serve many purposes and one of our most important roles is as outdoor classrooms to teach about the natural environment. The refuge's education program focuses on increasing understanding of the ecological significance of the area and developing a life-long appreciation of wetlands and associated biological diversity. Opportunities include school field outings, wetland educational trunks, guided canoe tours and classroom presentations. All activities are free and include an indoor or outdoor option to avoid poor weather. Contact the refuge to schedule a program.

    Learn More