Visitor Activities

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Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) offers a variety of activities when visiting. One of the best places to start, if you have not been to the Refuge before, is our self-guided auto tour. Please visit the auto tour page for more information or to download the brochure. We hope you enjoy your visit. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

  • Wildlife Viewing

    If you enjoy getting outdoors and looking for wildlife, consider a visit to your nearest National Wildlife Refuge!  From birding to whale watching, from viewing speedy Pronghorn or slow-moving Ornate Box Turtles, wildlife observation is the most popular activity for refuge visitors.

    From every state and all parts of the globe, about 40 million people visit each year, especially for the chance to see concentrations of wildlife and birds.  The National Wildlife Refuge System’s extensive trail system, boardwalks, observation decks, hunting and photography blinds, fishing piers and boat launches encourage visitors to discover America’s best wildlife spectacles.  For more information about wildlife observation or birding opportunities at Crescent Lake NWR, contact the Visitor Center at 308-762-4893.

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  • 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.

    As practiced on refuges, hunting does not pose a threat to wildlife populations, and in some instances is necessary for sound wildlife management.  

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


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  • Fishing

    In addition to the conservation of wildlife and habitat, the Refuge System offers a wide variety of quality fishing opportunities.  Fishing programs promote understanding and appreciation of natural resources and their management on all lands and waters in the Refuge System.  Every year, about 7 million anglers visit National Wildlife Refuges, where knowledgeable staff and thousands of volunteers help them have a wonderful fishing experience.

    Quality fishing opportunities are available on more than 270 national wildlife refuges.  Visitors can experience virtually any type of sport fishing on the continent.  From inconnu and grayling in remote Alaska, to snook hovering by mangroves in Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands, National Wildlife Refuges offer anglers adventure and diversity.

    For a great place to reconnect with a favorite childhood activity or to try it for the first time, make plans to fish at a National Wildlife Refuge soon.  Visit our Fishing page for more information on fishing at Crescent Lake NWR or find more information on fishing other national wildlife refuges with our on-line Guide to Fishing on National Wildlife Refuge.

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  • 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 explosion and cell phones with ever-improving picture-taking abilities are rapidly increasing the number of nature photographers.  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 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!

    A variety of wildlife calls Crescent Lake NWR home. Check out our bird, mammal, fish, and plants lists to find out more on some of the species that live here.

  • Interpretation

    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 found within each landscape.

    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 information 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.

    Through Refuge System interpretation programs, you can learn why nearly all of the critically endangered Whooping Cranes spend the winter at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas, about the beneficial role of wildfire to encourage native vegetation to grow at Necedah Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin, and thousands of other interesting and informative facts.

    Crescent Lake NWR offers a great opportunity to learn about and enjoy the Refuge, view wildlife, and take pictures, on the Self-Guide Auto Tour Route.

  • 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.  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 or visit Crescent Lake NWR to check on program availability and reservation policies.  Refuges are wild places, and we want to teach you more about them!