Visitor Activities

Visitors at a National Wildlife Refuge

The mixture of tallgrass prairies, wetlands and riverine habitats at Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge provide a number of great opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.



  • Hunting

    Father and Son Hunting

    The refuge offers public hunting opportunities consistent with state designated seasons and regulations. (Waterfowl hunting is not allowed.) Species open to hunting include gray partridge, cottontail rabbit, white-tailed jackrabbit, gray and fox squirrel, pheasant, turkey, and white-tailed deer. For more information on areas open to hunting, and specific regulations regarding hunting on the refuge please refer to Big Stone Refuge Public Use Regulations. Refuge hunting season dates and regulations are consistent with those established by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR). Contact the Refuge Manager at 320-273-2191 for more information.

    Learn More
  • Fishing

    Kids Fishing at Big Stone NWR

    Fishing is a popular activity at the refuge. Some of the most popular places to fish are along reservoir levees and spillways. Fishing from the banks of the Minnesota and Yellowbank Rivers are also productive. Anglers may also use the fishing platforms located on the refuge along with the East Pool during the winter months for ice fishing.

    For more information and specific regulations regarding fishing on the refuge please refer to Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge Public Use Regulations. Refuge fishing season dates and regulations are consistent with those established by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR). For additional information, contact the refuge at 320-273-2191.

    Learn More
  • Wildlife Viewing

    Wildlife Viewing at Big Stone Refuge

    Wildlife viewing and photography opportunities are abundant on the refuge. During spring and fall migration, up to 17 species of waterfowl and more than 23 species of shorebirds can be seen. Look for waterfowl species such as mallards, blue-winged teal, Canada geese, and northern shovelers. Common shorebird species encountered are killdeer, yellowlegs, and sandpipers. Visitors also have the chance to see birds of prey like bald eagles, red-tailed hawk, and kestrel. During the spring and summer months, birds such as the bobolink, meadowlark, marsh wren, and Virginia rail breed and nest on the refuge.

    Other animals to look for year round include beaver, mink, white-tailed deer, and river otters while spring and summer offer chances to see thirteen-lined ground squirrel, snapping turtles, frogs, and salamanders. For a detailed list of wildlife on the refuge see the Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge species list.

  • Interpretation

    Interpretive Trail at Big Stone Refuge

    Take self guided tours along trails, using kiosks and interpretive signs to explore our refuge! Enjoy the tallgrass prairies, wetlands and river woodlands that this area has to offer. During hunting seasons, wear blaze orange for your safety.

  • Environmental Education

    Environmental Education

    The refuge offers educational programs throughout the year that include group tours, instruction off site, as well as presentations on and off site. Staff-led field trips integrate science, local and natural history, and physical education in activities which are adaptable to students of all grade levels. Educational materials include discovery packs and trunks that are available for use at no charge. Contact the refuge at least two weeks in advance to schedule their use. For more information call the refuge office at 320-273-2191.

  • Photography

    Closeup of Spiderwort

    Perhaps the fastest growing activity on national wildlife refuges in the past ten years has been wildlife photography. That’s not surprising – the digital camera population explosion and cell phones with ever-improving picture-taking abilities are increasing the number of nature photographers at a rapid rate. You don’t need to purchase expensive equipment or have any experience to get started. A small camera or basic cell phone will do just fine for most visitors.

    Nearly 12 million people visit outdoor areas each year to photograph wildlife, and national wildlife refuges naturally are at the top of the list. Refuges provide enhanced opportunities to photograph wildlife in natural habitats by providing platforms, brochures, interpreters, viewing areas and tour routes. Wildlife photography is a high-priority activity in the Refuge System. We welcome beginning and expert photographers alike to record their outdoor adventures on film, memory card or internal hard drive!