Visitor Activities

Canoeing at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge

Mingo National Wildlife Refuge provides a number of great opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.  The mixture of bottomland forests, wetlands and swamps creates great waterways for canoeing and kayaking while also being great wildlife observation areas.

  • Hunting

    Bow Hunters

    Mingo has 8,960 acres set aside as a public hunting area which includes a paved accessible trail and three stationary blinds for hunters with disabilities. The refuge uses an additional 8,420 acres for Special Managed Deer Hunts. The Managed Hunts are conducted through a draw in cooperation with the Missouri Department of Conservation.

    Hunting for squirrel, turkey, deer and waterfowl are permitted on designated portions of the refuge in accordance with all applicable Federal, State and refuge-specific regulations. Consult the specific refuge hunting brochure below for more information.

     Mingo Hunting Brochure



  • Fishing

    Fishing at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge

    Fishing is permitted on the refuge in accordance with all applicable Federal, State, and refuge-specific regulations.

    Popular fishing areas include: Stanley Creek, May and Fox Pond, Flat Banks (Mingo River), Red Mill Pond, the downstream end of water control structures, and ditches, including Ditch 11. The species commonly caught are crappie, bass, bluegill, bowfin, and catfish.

    Consult the current refuge tearsheet for more information on fishing or contact the Visitor Center at 573-222-3589.

  • Wildlife Viewing

    Wildlife Viewing at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge

    More than 100,000 visitors each year visit the refuge to view an array of wildlife. A total of 279 resident and migratory bird species, 38 mammals, at least 46 species of fish, and more than 30 species of reptiles and amphibians use refuge habitats throughout the year. Popular locations to view wildlife are along our 3 auto tour routes. Bluff Road and Red Mill Drive are open year-round. Ozark Highlands is open March - November. (Note: Ozark Highlands Auto Tour Route may be closed for maintenance or management needs). Explore the Swampwalk Nature Trail, Sweet’s Cabin, Stanley Creek, Rockhouse Overlook, Monopoly Overlook, Red Mill Overlook, and along the Mingo River.

    For a complete bird species list, downlead the bird checklist here:

    Bird Checklist for Mingo NWR

  • Interpretation

    Interpretation at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge

    National Wildlife Refuges across the country provide opportunities for visitors to make their own connections to the natural world. Staff-led programs and self-guided exhibits, interpretive panels, and brochures help visitors learn more about the wildlife and habitats behind the landscapes. Programs and events are free, geared for youth and adults and provide a range of opportunities that maximize first-hand experiences in the Mingo Basin and its trails. For more information about upcoming programs and events contact the refuge office.

  • Environmental Education

    Environmental Education

    Mingo National Wildlife Refuge offers self-led and guided environmental education programs for a variety of audiences and ages. The refuge provides unique and exciting outdoor environments – excellent locations for hands-on learning activities. The entrance fee is waived for all school groups.

    Refuge staff is happy to work with you to provide a unique environmental education program for your class' visit to Mingo National Wildlife Refuge. Refuge staff-led programs are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis dependent on staff availability. Environmental education program topics can be tailored to fit specific grade levels and curriculum needs, and educational assistance, equipment loan, and logistical support is available to support self-led field trip visits.

    To inquire about scheduling programs, contact the refuge office at 573-222-3589 or email 

  • Photography

    Photography at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge

    Nearly 12 million people visit outdoor areas each year to photograph wildlife, and national wildlife refuges naturally are at the top of the list. Wildlife photography is a high-priority activity in the Refuge System. Mingo National Wildlife Refuge offers premier photography opportunities. We welcome photographers of all skill levels and ages to enjoy taking pictures of Mingo's unique habitat and native wildlife. In addition, the Mingo Swamp Friends host the “Annual Mingo Swamp Flora and Fauna Photography Contest,” which is open to the public. View the Mingo Swamp Friend's website for more information about this contest.

    The refuge has two photography blinds which are available for free under a reservation system. Please refer to the “Permit” section to complete a request for a free Refuge Special Use Permit.

  • Boating/Canoeing/Kayaking

    Boating at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge

    Boating, canoeing, and kayaking on the refuge is associated with fishing, wildlife viewing of the Old Mingo River, Stanley Creek, and marsh habitats, and environmental education. Boating, canoeing, and kayaking is permitted from March 1 to September 30 in the area north of Ditch 11 between and including Ditch 2 and Ditch 6. It is permitted year round on Ditch 1, Ditch 2, Ditch 6, Ditch 11, Mingo River, Job Corps Lake, Stanley Creek, May Pond, Fox Pond, and Red Mill Pond. Ditch 3, 4, 5, Monopoly Marsh, Gum Stump, and Rockhouse Marsh are closed to all use from October 1 until March 1. Electric Motors are allowed outside of the Wilderness area. (Note: the refuge does not have canoes/kayaks to rent. However, occasionally the refuge will offer guided paddle rides in which canoes are provided.)

    Canoe Trail Map

  • Hiking/Biking/Horseback Riding

    Hiking at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge

    Horseback riding, recreational biking, hiking, and jogging are permitted on selected refuge roadways throughout the year from 1/2 hour before sunrise until 1/2 hour after sunset. Roads west of Ditch 6, the Bluff Road, and Red Mill Drive are available throughout the year. A one mile road segment between May Pond and Fox Pond is available from May 15 through September 30. All other roads are available from March 1 through September 30. The Refuge Auto Tour Route is available to conduct these activities from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. throughout the year. Groups larger than 25 individuals must complete a request for a free Refuge Special Use Permit.

  • Mushroom/Berry Picking

    Mushroom Hunting at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge

    Gathering of wild berries, mushrooms, and pokeweed is permitted on the refuge only for personal use.  No ground disturbance is permitted and allowed in areas south of Ditch 11 and east of the Mingo River from March 1 to September 30. Harvest limits include: one gallon per day of mushrooms and berries and five gallons per day of pokeweed.