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Visitor Activities

Visitor Activities

The refuge grounds are open daily sunrise to sunset; the visitor center is open daily (except for certain federal holidays) 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Bertrand steamboat museum collection is on display inside the visitor center. 

Scroll down for information on the following visitor activities:



-Wildlife Viewing


-Environmental Education

-Wildlife Photography


  • Hunting


    Hunting opportunities at DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge are available on a regulated basis. Deer and wild turkey hunts are available yearly. All hunting occurs at DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge within the state seasons, follows the regulations of the state and special DeSoto NWR regulations. 

    For information about hunting opportunities at Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuge, please follow this link:

    In addition to state and refuge hunting permits, all hunters are required to possess a valid entrance pass

    2016 Spring Turkey Hunts 

    Click here for the 2016 Spring Turkey Hunting News Release

    Public Archery Hunt 

    DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge will be open to public archery turkey hunting from April 18 through May 22. A Refuge Hunting Permit is required and can be obtained free of charge at the DeSoto Visitor Center, which is open daily from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

    2016-2017 Hunting Regulations and Permit 

    Youth Shotgun Hunt 

    The refuge will hold two youth shotgun turkey hunts on April 9-10 and May 21-22. Interested youth hunters may apply for the hunt by sending in their name address and telephone number. We also need the name and cell phone number of the person who will be bringing the youth hunting. Applications should be sent to DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, 1434 316th Lane, Missouri Valley, IA 51555. A random drawing for the limited slots will be done on March 14. All applications must be received by that time.

    Mobility Impaired Shotgun Hunt

    A shotgun hunt for mobility impaired hunters will be held on May 21-22. Interested mobility impaired hunters can find out more about the hunt by calling Mindy Sheets at 712-388-4802.

    2016-2017 Fall/Winter Deer Hunts

    Deer (Antlerless Only)- October 22-23, 2016

    Deer (Antlerless Only)- December 17-18, 2016

    2016-2017 Hunting Regulations and Permit


  • Fishing

    Fishing at DeSoto Lake

    Fishing opportunities at DeSoto Lake are available from April 15-October 14. Ice fishing is open January 2- February 28/29. DeSoto Lake has a good fishery for crappie, walleye, catfish, largemouth bass, white bass, and bluegill. A number of access points allow for bank fishing, and a boat launch facility is available during the season (April 15 - Oct 14). Fish habitat structures, including tree piles, rock piles, and pallets have been placed in the lake to enhance the fishery. To protect the fragile lake shore from erosion due to wave action there is a no-wake policy in effect. For more information about fishing, please see our DeSoto Regulations Brochure, DeSoto Lake Fish Habitat Structure Map or the DeSoto Lake Depth Map.

  • Wildlife Viewing

    Wildlife observation at DeSoto Nationla Wildlife Refuge

    DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge offers excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. A wide variety of migratory waterfowl, shorebirds, grassland birds, neotropical migrants, mammals and many others can be seen at the refuge. Look for wildlife from the DeSoto Visitor Center, from refuge roads and while hiking refuge trails. You will find the largest concentrations of migrating birds in the spring and fall.

  • Interpretation

    Interpretive program at DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge

    Explore DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge through interpretive exhibits, brochures and programs. Start at the DeSoto Visitor Center for an overview of the natural and cultural history of the area. Look for kiosks and signs throughout the area. Join us for interpretive programs and special events throughout the year. 

  • Environmental Education

    DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge provides many opportunities for learning. Through environmental education programs, students meet curriculum goals while connecting with nature. 

    DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge partners with the Blair Community School District (NE) and students make repeat visits to the refuge each year. They explore the refuge through the seasons and learn more about the wildlife in their own backyard. 

    The refuge also partners with Edison Elementary in Omaha for a yearlong Refuge experience for 6th grade students. This partnership includes school visits by rangers and field trips to the refuge. 

    Other are schools are also served for single visit field trips to the refuge that are facilitated with activity guides and other assistance from refuge staff. 


    For more information, see the Educator Information Guide and the Blair Schools/DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge Environmental Education Partnership mission document.

  • Photography

    Wildlife photography at DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge

    DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge is full of photographic opportunities. Photographers have ample opportunities to photograph migratory waterfowl, bald eagles, scenic vistas and other resident wildlife. There are no special photography blinds on the refuge but photographers can shoot from any location open to the general public.

Page Photo Credits — Credit: USFWS
Last Updated: Apr 07, 2016
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