Migration Season Public Use Area

October 15, 2018 - April 14, 2019
Waterfowl on DeSoto Lake DeSoto's self-guiding tour road access changes each year during Migration Season, October 15 - April 14th. DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge limits access to some of the refuge roads during the fall and spring waterfowl migration season. This includes the south entrance gate, as well as the south and east side of the loop road. This limited access is in effect each year from October 15-April 14.

All use of DeSoto lake, including bank fishing, boat fishing and any other boating is prohibited during this period.

The purpose of the partial tour loop closure is to reduce potential disturbance to waterfowl that use DeSoto Lake and refuge wetlands as a stopover area during the fall and spring migrations. If ice conditions permit, DeSoto Lake will be open to ice fishing on January 2 through the end of February and all public use roads will be reopened. If you have questions, please call the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge at (712) 388-4800.

During Public Use Season, April 15 - October 14, all tour roads, south gate and DeSoto lake are open; fishing and boating is permitted.


  • DeSoto Lake is also closed to any activity, including fishing October 15-April 14.
  • Between October 15 and April 14, gates are closed to prohibit travel from left turn intersection (southeast past the Missouri River Overlook) along the Missouri River to South Gate Recreation Area and the South Entrance / Exit Gate. The gravel section of the tour road from Bob Starr Wildlife Overlook to South Gate is also closed. 
  • The South Gate Entrance / Exit itself remains closed during this period; visitors must enter and exit the refuge using the north gate along US Route 30.
  • If sufficient ice forms on DeSoto Lake, the lake is opened and ICE FISHING ONLY permitted between January 2 and the end of February each year. If these conditions are present - the entire tour loop, including the gravel sections and the South Entrance / Exit Gate re-open for that period. 

* Visitors can bike or drive, year - round, the paved sections of the tour road from the north entrance along US Route 30 to the visitor center, and past to the Missouri River overlook. make the left turn to travel past the Bertrand Discovery Site, Cottonwood/Grassland Trail and Bob Starr Wildlife Overlook.