The hatchery provides a great stop along one of the nation’s greatest scenic highways. Its mission and the visitor center highlight the past and present uses of the Mississippi River, its people and fish and wildlife resources. Want to jump in right now? Take a virtual hatchery tour!
Scheduling Tours or Field Trips
Please call in advance to schedule group tours of our facilities. Group tours are generally provided between the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Monday through Friday. Staff availability varies seasonally.
We are located on both sides of the Great River Road Scenic Byway, also known as State Highway 35, 3 miles south of Genoa, Wisconsin. The office is on the west side of the highway, at fire route number S 5631.
There is no charge to visit.
Public restrooms are available inside the visitor center.
Points of Interest
The Great River Road Interpretive Center is an excellent learning center focusing on four important themes of the Upper Mississippi River Region. One exhibit focuses on the distant past civilizations to the present population that use the river as a highway and a means to trade and travel. One exhibit focuses on the recent past and the tragedy of the Battle of Bad Axe which happened just south of the hatchery. One exhibit focuses on the fish and wildlife resources of the region and the history of conservation in the basin, which includes the hatchery story and two aquariums filled with native species. Visitors can also walk the grounds and see many different habitats, from the river bluffs and wetlands to ponds and the Bad Axe River flowing into the Mississippi.
What To Do
If you have 15 minutes
- Watch the Great River Road Interpretive Center orientation video and view the exhibits
If you have one hour
- Watch the Great River Road Interpretive Center orientation video
- Explore the exhibits
- Visit the culture buildings
If you have half a day or more
- Tour the visitor center, exhibits and aquarium
- Take a self-guided walking tour of the hatchery and end at the trout pond on the other side of Highway 35 to feed the trout (seasonal)
- Tour the culture buildings
- See a lake sturgeon and a mudpuppy up close
- Walk the nature trail and wetland boardwalk, document the wildlife you see on our ponds, woods and wetlands
Know Before You Go
Bring plenty of drinking water, snacks, insect repellant, sunscreen and other necessities. Dress appropriately for the seasons and wear comfortable walking shoes.
Site maps and walking tour maps are available at the visitor center desks and brochure racks. Migratory times of spring and fall are best to spot waterfowl and shore birds. Bald eagles are seen from spring to early winter. Sandhill cranes are regularly seen in the spring in the hatchery wetland.
Tour the visitor center and learn more about the beauty and history of the Upper Mississippi River basin. See many examples of river fish in our 1,500 gallon aquarium. Tour the sturgeon and coldwater buildings and see thousands of sturgeon and trout being reared for restoration projects across the country. Tour our ponds and walk across the road to our accessible dock to feed our rainbow trout in Pond 2.
Genoa National Fish Hatchery Nature Trail
Open season: All season
Length: 0.5 miles
Location of trail: Trailhead begins just north of the shop
Surface Wood chips
Information: Trail has environmental education signs pointing out interesting ecological information on the way
Open season: Spring - fall
Length: 0.1 mile
Location of trail: Wetland on east side of highway
Surface Planking (ADA compliant)
Information: Informational signs along the walkway
Rules and Policies
The hatchery is a working farm with a living product. Public use and aquatic species propagation can coexist. Visitors must keep hands and other objects out of the water. When you visit, keep dogs leashed and be sure to clean up after them. Please note that there is no hunting or public fishing outside of special events on hatchery grounds.
- Dogs must be on a leash and cleaned up after
- No public fishing is allowed on station unless during a Service sanctioned event
- No hands or any other objects can be placed in or on water due to strict biosecurity protocols
- No drones are allowed on hatchery grounds
- No hunting is sanctioned on the hatchery due to concerns of the proximity of culture buildings and safety of the staff