Visitor Activities

  • Wildlife Viewing


    Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge is home to one of the world's largest American white pelican colonies.  Recently over 30,000 breeding pelicans nested here, along with tens of thousands of double-crested cormorants, ring-billed and California gulls, and other colonial nesting birds.  Areas surrounding the Refuge offer excellent opportunities for wetland and grassland bird watching.

  • Interpretation


    Refuge System interpretation programs provide opportunities for visitors to make their own connections to the natural world. Printed and virtual information is often available on many topics, including plants and animals, seasonal migrations, habitats, refuge management strategies, and endangered species.  Look for interpretive panels at Chase Lake Pass. 

  • Environmental Education


    National Wildlife Refuges serve many purposes, and one of our most important roles is as outdoor classrooms to teach about wildlife and natural resources.  Environmental Education programs and sites for outdoor classrooms are available on a request/appointment basis only. Please contact Refuge headquarters for more information.

  • Photography


    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! 

  • Wilderness Area


    Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge is one of only two Wilderness Areas in the National Wildlife Refuge System in North Dakota. The other is Lostwood NWR.

    In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wilderness Act establishing the National Wilderness Preservation System. The Wilderness Act mandates that wilderness areas be "administered for the use and enjoyment of the American people in such a manner as will leave them unimpaired for future use and enjoyment as wilderness." In 1975, 4,185 acres of Chase Lake NWR was designated as Wilderness Area because of its unique "roadless prairie" habitat and its natural beauty characteristic of areas left in their natural state. To preserve the integrity of wilderness areas, motorized vehicles or mechanical equipment use is restricted on the wilderness portion of the refuge.

  • Hunting


    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 appreciate of wildlife, their behavior, and their habitat needs.  Chase Lake NWR provides valuable staging and resting areas for migratory birds each fall. To minimize disturbance to migratory birds, Chase Lake NWR is only open to deer hunting which is typically after migratory birds have migrated south for the winter.

  • Fishing

    The refuge is not open to fishing. Chase Lake is typically highly alkaline in addition to being shallow and does not support freshwater game fish.