Visitor Activities

Photo of USFWS Mascot, the Blue Goose, walking the trails at the Big Muddy Headquarters on the Overton Bottoms North Unit by Ashley Riedel/USFWS.

Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge (NFWR) consists of seventeen separate units located mostly along the lower Missouri River. All the refuges units are open free of charge to the public. Check out the maps link to the right to locate a unit near you and find out what it offers!

  • Wildlife Observation & Hiking

    Photo of a visitor viewing wildlife at the Diana Scour on the Overton Bottoms North Unit of the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge by Anna Weyers/USFWS.

    The Missouri River offers a conveyor belt of wildlife viewing, with wonderful opportunities year-round. Habitat provided by the river, along with restoration by refuge staff attracts numerous migratory birds, beavers, bobcats, and other secretive wildlife; especially during dusk and dawn. Trails on the refuge are prime locations to easily access remote areas where wildlife abound.

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  • Fishing

    Photo of USFWS interns teaching a young boy how to fish at a Fee Free Fishing event.

    Tributary streams, scour lakes and ponds provide plenty of opportunities to fish on most refuge units. While the Missouri River is great for catching cat fish, scour lakes and ponds created and replenished by flooding offer crappie, bass, catfish, carp and other fish throughout the year. Some locations are remote, providing isolated fishing opportunities and many trails offer easy access to fishing sites.

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  • Hunting

    Photo of a father and son hunting on the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge by Carol Weston.

    The refuge includes a diverse array of habitats, from floodplain and upland forests, occasional flooded wetlands, to agricultural and early succession fields, which support an abundance of deer, turkey, squirrels, rabbits and other game species. Refuge hunting seasons follow state regulations; however, specific units are archery only or archery deer and shotgun only, and no hunting is allowed near the headquarters building.

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  • Interpretation

    Photo of Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge Park Ranger, Tim Haller, giving an interpretive talk on turtles at a Missouri River Relief event.

    The refuge provides 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 others 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.

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  • Environmental Education

    Photo of Big Muddy NFWR Park Ranger, Tim Haller, giving an environmental education talk to a group of visiting students on the Overton Bottoms North Unit by Ashley Riedel/USFWS.

    The refuge's education program focuses on increasing understanding of the Missouri River, the wildlife habitat it creates, and the need for native habitat restoration. Opportunities include school field outings, mobile river exhibits, various events throughout the year as well as The Big Muddy Speakers Series. All activities are free, and include an opportunity for the public to learn about the river and the refuge.

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  • Photography

    Photo of a Student Conservation Association Career Discovery Intern taking photographs of wildlife on the Berger Bend Unit of the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge by Anna Weyers/USFWS.

    The refuge has a plethora of photography opportunities with plenty of wildlife year round. During spring and summer photographers are greeted with numerous colorful butterflies, while spring and fall bring migratory birds and photogenic mammals. To capture some of the more elusive wildlife, take the wait and see approach. Dusk and dawn are the best times for viewing wildlife on the refuge - you may be surprised at what you see.

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