Fun Facts About Refuge Rivers and Trails

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Bicyclists follow a trail around salt ponds undergoing restoration at Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

If you’ve done any exploring of rivers and trails on national wildlife refuges, you know how rich, fun and varied the experience can be.

But did you know refuge land and water trails also boast some odd, quirky distinctions? Consider these.

Get Moving

On what refuges can you ...

An elevated platform for camping overnight in the wilderness at Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

Go Back in Time

On what refuges can you ...

  • Imagine what it was like to head west in a covered wagon?

The Lombard Ferry crossing at Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge in Wyoming sits at the juncture of four historic trails: the Oregon Trail, the Pony Express Trail, the Mormon Trail and the California Trail. You might even see wagon wheel ruts in the ground.

  • Roam lands rich with the remains of some of the earth’s most fearsome prehistoric creatures?

Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge in Montana is renowned as a dinosaur fossil site. The discovery in 2010 of a prehistoric sea creature called a plesiosaur encased in 75-million-year-old dirt/rock excited paleontologists. It’s illegal to collect rocks and fossils on public lands.

  • Learn about indigenous culture?

At Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge in Nevada, the Visitor Center Trail pays homage to the Nuwuvi people, who have inhabited this Mojave Desert region continuously for thousands of years. Tribe members worked with refuge staff to design exhibits.  At Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in Washington, the Cathlapotle Plankhouse is a faithful re-creation of a historic dwelling of the Chinook Indian Nation.

At Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge in Montana, a man poses alongside the remains of a prehistoric sea creature called a plesiosaur, discovered at the site.

Look for Strange Creatures

On what refuges can you ... indulge a long-shot hope of seeing some odd-looking animals?

At. St. Catherine Creek National Wildlife Refuge in Mississippi, two Fish and Wildlife Service employees hold an alligator gar across their laps in a boat.

Go Against the Flow

On what refuges can you ... challenge the usual rules?

Melissa Guevara paddles the Wallkill River at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge in New York and New Jersey.

Go Big

On what refuges can you ... enjoy some of the longest water trail systems in the National Wildlife Refuge System?

Refuges with some of the lengthiest water trail systems include Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska (140 miles), Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia (120 miles) and Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge (96 miles). 

Boating down a river through majestic scenery at Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

Story Tags

American Indians
Cultural resources
Historic sites
Rivers and streams
Wildlife refuges