Visitor Activities

Kayaking the Missouri River

Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge consists of fifteen separate units located mostly along the lower Missouri River. All the refuges units are open to the public. Go to the maps link on the right to locate a unit near you and find out what is available.

  • Hunting


    Hunting opportunities are abundant within the refuge. All units are open to hunting. The refuge includes a diversity of habitats from floodplain and upland forests, and occasional flooded wetlands, to agriculture and early succession fields. These areas support deer, turkey, squirrels, rabbits and other game species. Refuge hunting seasons generally follow state regulations; however, it is important to note that specific units are archery hunting only or archery deer and shotgun only. Single projectile firearms are not permitted on the Boone’s Crossing and Cora Island Units. Visit our rules and regulations page for additional information.  

  • Fishing


    The Missouri River and some tributary streams and scour lakes and ponds provide opportunities to fish on most units of the refuge. Scour lakes and ponds created and replenished by Missouri River flooding provide opportunities to catch crappie, bass, catfish, carp and other fish throughout the year. Some scour lakes and ponds are located in more remote locations providing some isolated fishing opportunities. The Missouri River provides opportunities to catch catfish, and other fish. Trails on the refuge provide access to fishing locations on the river. To find out more about locations, contact the refuge.  

     General Brochure 


  • Wildlife Viewing

    Wildlife Observation

    The Missouri River provides the conveyor belt of wildlife viewing opportunities on the refuge. The river attracts numerous migrating bird species seen on the refuge during the fall and spring. Isolated locations along the river provide chances to view beaver, bobcat and other secretive wildlife traveling along the shore and in the water especially in the early morning or late evening. Two trails on the refuge bring the visitor to ideal locations on the river where they can sit quietly and watch for wildlife the river reveals. Other locations on the refuge provide for year round wildlife viewing.


  • Interpretation


    National wildlife refuges across the country provide opportunities for visitors to make their own connections to the natural world. Self-guided hikes and staff-led programs help visitors learn more about the wildlife and habitats behind the landscapes. The refuge partners with schools, non-profits and Friends of Big Muddy to educate youth and adults about the Missouri River and refuge. Events focus on local festivals and special events to help spark a continued interest by visitors to their natural environment. Contact the refuge for more information about upcoming programs and events.

  • Environmental Education

    Environmental Education

    National wildlife refuges serve many purposes and one of our most important provides outdoor classrooms to teach about the natural environment. The refuge's education program focuses on increasing understanding of the Missouri River and the wildlife habitat it creates. Opportunities include school field outings to the refuge, mobile river exhibit, and The Big Muddy Speakers Series.  All activities are free and include an opportunity for the public to learn about the river and refuge. Contact the refuge to learn more about educational opportunities.

  • Photography

    Wildlife Photography

    Perhaps the fastest growing activity on national wildlife refuges in the past ten years has been wildlife photography. On this refuge some of the more desirable species are camera shy but a creative photographer can find some less shy wildlife subjects. Insects and spiders are abundant and make interesting photographs. During summer and fall look for numerous and colorful butterflies. Catch their photograph as they pause to pollinate plants. To capture some of the more elusive wildlife, take the wait and see approach. Just after sunrise and before sunset are the best. Find a spot and just wait. You may be surprised at what you see.