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Visitor Activities

  • Wildlife Viewing

    Wildlife Viewing

    Bird watching is a popular wildlife viewing activity.  Annual migrations funnel hundreds of thousands of waterfowl, songbirds and raptors through the Minnesota River Valley. The refuge has a wide diversity of wildlife and plants, and provides many opportunities to view wildlife both on land and in the water.

    Other activities you can do on the refuge that will allow you to view wildlife include biking, hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.

    Bird Checklist
    Damselfy and Dragonfly Checklist
    Wildlife Checklist 


  • Fishing


    Shore fishing and ice fishing are allowed on most refuge waters.  Consult Minnesota Department of Health fish consumption guidelines before eating any fish.  Boat fishing is only allowed on the Minnesota River.  For Minnesota River boat launch access information, please contact the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.  The Youth Fishing Pond at the Bass Ponds is part of the Fishing in the Neighborhood program, and is stocked with bass, crappie, bluegill, and catfish. 

    All Minnesota state regulations pertaining to fishing apply.  Refuge-specific regulations, which may be more restrictive, will also be enforced.  Make sure to observe posted refuge boundaries and "no fishing" signs.  Contact the refuge at 952-854-5900 or email for further information.

    Learn More
  • Hunting


    Select units offer specific hunting opportunities during Minnesota state seasons, including opportunities for youth and people with disabilities.  All Minnesota state regulations and refuge-specific regulations pertaining to hunting will be enforced.  You may only hunt in the areas and during the times specified in the current year's brochure.  Download the current Refuge Hunting Brochure from our Maps section or stop by a visitor center to obtain a copy.  Make sure to observe posted refuge boundary signs and no hunting zones closely since some refuge areas are adjacent buildings, private property or critical habitat areas.

  • Interpretation


    National Wildlife Refuges across the country provide opportunities for visitors to make their own connections to the natural world.  Self-guided hikes and staff-led programs help visitors learn more about the wildlife and habitats behind the landscapes. Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge provides a variety of public programs throughout the year.  Programs and events are free, geared for youth and adults and provide a range of opportunities that maximize first-hand experiences along the river and trails in the refuge. For current programs, visit our Events Calendar.

  • Environmental Education

    Environmental Education

    Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge offers a wide diversity of  environmental education opportunities for schools, teachers, youth groups, and families.  For more information, visit the For Educators web page.

  • Photography


    Perhaps the fastest growing activity on national wildlife refuges in the past ten years has been wildlife photography.  The refuge has two portable nature photography blinds available for use on refuge lands.  They weigh 9 lbs. and are 68" square by 78" tall with four window openings, and fit in a backpack carrying case.  Blinds may be reserved for up to three days and can be checked out at either visitor center.  A $25 deposit is required, payable by cash or check at check-out, and refunded when the blind is returned in good condition.  To reserve the photo blind, call refuge staff (952-854-5900) or e-mail

Page Photo Credits — Credit: USFWS
Last Updated: Feb 24, 2017
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