Visitor Services

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Our visitor services goal is to provide visitors of all abilities with wildlife-dependent recreation, interpretation, and evnironmental education opportunities that foster an appreciation and understanding of the unique wildlife, plant communities, and cultural resources of the Montana Prairie Pothole Region.



  • Hunting and Trapping

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    Public hunting of migratory gamebirds (ducks, geese, coot, swan, sandhill crane, and mourning dove), and upland gamebirds (pheasant, sharp-tailed grouse, greater sage grouse, gray partridge) is permitted in the designated portions of the refuge (about 40%).  See public use regulations for more specific information about our hunt program.

    Hunting is an important wildlife management tool that we recognize as a healthy, traditional outdoor pastime, deeply rooted in America’s heritage.  Hunting can instill a unique understanding and appreciation of wildlife, their behavior, and their habitat needs.

    As practiced on refuges, hunting, trapping and fishing do not pose a threat to wildlife populations, and in some instances are necessary for sound wildlife management. 

    Hunting programs can promote understanding and appreciation of natural resources and their management on lands and waters in the Refuge System.

    To find out more about hunting opportunities, seasons and regulations on Bowdoin NWR, please contact us.

    Trapping may occur for wildlife management purposes as designated by the manager, and under a Special Use Permit.  Please contact the manager for more information.

  • Wildlife Viewing

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    If you enjoy getting outdoors and looking for wildlife, consider a visit to your nearest national wildlife refuge!  From birding to viewing speedy pronghorn antelope wildlife observation is the most popular activity for refuge visitors.

    Visitor facilities at the refuge are a 15 mile long, self-guided auto tour road; a 0.4 mile accessible trail with and overlook deck, and photo blind; three boat launches, two on Lake Bowdoin and one on Drumbo (boating is only allowed during the waterfowl hunting season).

  • Interpretation

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    Refuge System interpretation programs provide opportunities for visitors to make their own connections to the natural world.  From self-guided walks to ranger-led programs, many national wildlife refuges help visitors learn more about the wildlife and habitat behind the landscapes.

    In addition to staff and volunteers presenting programs to audiences, refuges use a variety of exhibits, signs, brochures, and electronic media to communicate natural history stories to visitors.  Printed and virtual information is often available on many topics, including plants and animals, seasonal migrations, habitats, refuge management strategies, and endangered species.


  • Environmental Education

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    National Wildlife Refuges serve many purposes, and one of our most important roles is as outdoor classrooms to teach about wildlife and natural resources.  Many refuges offer environmental education programs for a variety of audiences.  Refuges provide unique and exciting outdoor environments – excellent locations for hands-on learning activities.  Thousands of youth and adult groups visit every year to learn about a specific topic on wildlife, habitat, or ecological processes.

    Is your school, youth, environmental or other group interested in learning more about the wildlife, plants, habitats and ecology of a particular national wildlife refuge?  Contact us or visit Bowdoin NWR to check on program availability and reservation policies.  Refuges are wild places, and we want to teach you more about them!

  • Photography

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    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!