Visitor Activities

Sharp-tailed Grouse 512 x 300

Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge offers its visitors many opportunities to view wildlife using a variety of trails and routes situated throughout the refuge.



  • Hunting

    The Refuge is open to deer hunting, turkey hunting, and upland game hunting. Hunting is permitted in designated areas during designated hunting seasons with the proper licenses. Non-toxic shot is required for upland game hunting. Pre-season scouting is not permitted in closed areas.

    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 Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge, contact the refuge manager.

  • Wildlife Viewing

    Wildlife observation is permitted year-round in all open public use areas, nature trails, and the auto tour route. Permission of the Refuge Manager is required to enter closed areas. A viewing scope on the observation deck at Refuge headquarters provides visitors with close-up views of waterfowl on Middle Des Lacs Lake. Over 250 species of birds can be seen on the Refuge.    

    For more information about wildlife observation opportunities at Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge contact the refuge manager. 

  • Interpretation and Environmental Education

    Interpretive displays are available at Refuge headquarters and focus on early history of the area, habitat management, waterfowl production, grassland birds, grebes, sharp-tailed grouse, and butterflies. The Refuge staff hosts a variety of special events and programs throughout the year. Please contact the Refuge staff for more information about environmental education programs and learning sites.

  • Auto Tour Route

    This 19-mile auto tour route provides views of the Des Lacs River Valley and is part of the North Dakota Scenic Backways program. Backways are designated scenic routes throughout the State. Interpretive panels are located along the route and describe Refuge wildlife and habitat. This route offers excellent wildlife viewing opportunities in the spring and fall. Keep a watchful eye out for deer and moose.

  • Public Use

    The Canada Goose Nature Trail is a 7.5 mile scenic trail adjacent to the southern end of Upper Des lacs Lake. The trail provides great viewing opportunities for migrating and breeding waterfowl. It is open to hiking, bicycling, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing. 

    Tasker's Coulee Day Use Area is a unique wooded area consisting of mowed grass nature trails and opportunities for wildlife observation, hiking, or group events. A historic Civilian Conservation Corps shelter with tables is located near the parking area. A restroom is available at the site.