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Plan Your Visit

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Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge provides numerous recreational opportunities to thousands of visitors every year. Whether boating, driving, or hiking, visitors enjoy viewing the unique geology and diverse wildlife found here such as like the Burrowing Owl (pictured here).  Regulation of recreational activities allows for public enjoyment of the Refuge while still protecting the wildlife and their habitats.   

 


  • The Refuge is open from sunrise to sunset. 
  • Visitors access the refuge via the Loop Road. Roads throughout the Refuge are graveled and visitors must maintain the posted speed limit of 35 miles per hour. 
  • Parking is allowed in designated parking areas only. 
  • No overnight parking is allowed on the Refuge.
  • Hiking is allowed in all areas open to the public. 
  • Wildlife observation and photography are encouraged. 
  • Please stay out of closed areas to minimize disturbance to plants and animals. 
  • Horseback riding is allowed on signed Refuge public access routes open to motor vehicles and only while involved in other active recreational pursuits. 
  • Island Lake is open to fishing year-round. Smith and Crane Lakes are open to fishing seasonally from November 1 through February 15. All other Refuge lakes are closed to fishing. Please visit the Sport Fishing page for more important information.
  • Only non-motorized boats and boats with electric motors are permitted. Gasoline or other internal combustion engines are prohibited. If these types of motors are permanently affixed or built into the boat, they must be temporarily rendered inoperable by removing gas tanks, batteries, etc.
  • Sport hunting is permitted on the Refuge in accordance with all state and federal regulations. Hunters should consult the Nebraska state hunting regulations. Special refuge hunting regulations also apply.
  • Firearms and other weapons are subject to state law. At all times, persons possessing, transporting, or carrying firearms on National Wildlife Refuge System lands must comply with all provisions of State and local law. Persons may only use (discharge) firearms in accordance with refuge regulations (50 CFR 27.42 and specific refuge regulations in 50 CFR Part 32), i.e., only during the lawful pursuit of game during legal seasons.
  • Other prohibitions on the Refuge are dogs off-leash (except during legitimate hunting seasons); off-road vehicles; and collecting of plants, animals, minerals, antlers and artifacts. 

Oshkosh and Alliance provide both campgrounds and hotels. The Refuge staff cannot make lodging recommendations; however, we suggest that you contact the City of Oshkosh and the Alliance Chamber of Commerce for hotel/motel suggestions. Camping is also available at Nebraska Game and Parks' site, Smith Lake Wildlife Management Area, which is 50 miles north of the Refuge.

For driving directions, please visit our "Directions" page. 

For questions about recreation, please contact the Refuge office.

Page Photo Credits — Don Poggensee - Burrowing Owl
Last Updated: Aug 19, 2014
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