Plan Your Visit

Bloomington VC

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge has two visitor and education centers, access areas to more than 14,000 acres of land dedicated to wildlife and wildlife-dependent recreation. To get a glimpse of the multiple habitats within the refuge, visit either center or any of the refuge units. Hours of operation vary seasonally.


 

 Visitor Center Hours 

Regular hours at the Bloomington Education and Visitor Center are: 

  • June - August: Tuesday-Sunday from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. 
  • September - May:  Wednesday-Sunday from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. 

The Rapids Lake Education Center is closed during the summer and open to the public and school groups starting September 4, Tuesday-Friday 9 a.m.-3 p.m. 

Know Before You Go: 

Both visitor and education centers are closed on all federal holidays as well as Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. Hours are subject to change due to weather-related or other periodic closures. Federal holidays include:

  • New Year's Day (January 1)
  • Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. (3rd Monday in January)
  • Washington's Birthday (3rd Monday in February)
  • Memorial Day (Last Monday in May)
  • Independence Day (July 4)
  • Labor Day (1st Monday in September)
  • Columbus Day (2nd Monday in October)
  • Veterans Day (November 11)
  • Thanksgiving Day (4th Thursday in November)
  • Christmas Day (December 25)

Trail conditions on the refuge vary throughout the year. Be prepared, as you may encounter changes in trail conditions while hiking, including periodic flooding, wet or muddy areas, thorny vegetation, and rough ground. Bug spray, sunscreen, and drinking water are recommended during warm weather. Trails are ungroomed in winter and may be snow-packed and icy. To protect wildlife, please stay on designated trails and keep pets leashed at all times while visiting the refuge. 

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge also manages a 14 county Wetland Management District (WMD), stretching from Blue Earth County to Chisago County.  Within the WMD, over 2,600 acres of land have been designated as Waterfowl Production Area (WPA) lands, set aside for the production of waterfowl and other wetland and prairie dependent species.  WPAs, like portions of the refuge, are open to the public.  Click here to see maps of these public lands.  In addition, over 2,000 acres of wetlands and grasslands are protected through permanent easements.  Thank you, and enjoy your visit!

Information for the Bloomington Education and Visitor Center  

Address: 

Bloomington Education and Visitor Center
3815 American Blvd. East
Bloomington, MN 55425
Phone: 952-854-5900
TTY: 1-800-877-8339
minnesotavalley@fws.gov

**GPS USERS** Type the visitor center address in to your GPS.  If you type in "Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge", Google, Bing, and Mapquest will bring you to the refuge's Louisville Swamp Unit in Shakopee, MN. 

Driving Directions:
From Interstate 494, exit 34th Avenue and head south. Proceed east on American Blvd East for 1/4 mile to the entrance on the right.

Metro Transit:
Hiawatha Light Rail - Depart at the American Blvd/34th Avenue Station. Proceed east on American Blvd East for 1/4 mile to the entrance on the right.

RLEVC

Information for the Rapids Lake Education Center  

Address: 

Rapids Lake Education Center
15865 Rapids Lake Rd. (formerly Carver Highlands Dr.)
Carver, MN 55315
Phone: 952-361-4500
TTY: 1-800-877-8339 
minnesotavalley@fws.gov 

**GPS USERS**Type the education center address in to your GPS.  If you type in "Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge", Google, Bing, and Mapquest will bring you to the refuge's Louisville Swamp Unit in Shakopee, MN. 

Driving Directions from Hwy 169:
From Hwy 169 in Jordan, proceed north 3.5 miles on County Road 9 across the Minnesota River (where it becomes County Road 11) to Carver Highlands Drive and turn right. Continue onto Rapids Lake Road.  Follow to the visitor center.

Driving Directions from Hwy 212:
From Highway 212, exit on Jonathan Carver Parkway (County Road 11) and turn south. Proceed 2.5 miles, continuing on County Road 11 by turning left. Proceed 1.9 miles and turn left on Carver Highlands Drive. Continue onto Rapids Lake Road.  Follow to the visitor center.