Visitor Activities

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 “In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”

― Margaret Atwood

  • Hunting

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    Hunting is an important wildlife management tool that we recognize as a healthy, traditional outdoor pastime, deeply rooted in America’s heritage.  Hunting can instill a unique understanding and appreciate of wildlife, their behavior, and their habitat needs.

    As practiced on the Reelfoot NWR, hunting and fishing do not pose a threat to wildlife populations, and in some instances are necessary for sound wildlife management.  

    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 the Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge, see our Reelfoot and Lake Isom NWR's Public Regulations brochure.

    To learn about our quota hunts, click below!

    Learn More
  • Fishing

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    In addition to the conservation of wildlife and habitat, Reelfoot NWR offers a wide variety of quality fishing opportunities.  Fishing programs promote understanding and appreciation of natural resources and their management on all lands and waters in the Refuge System.  Each year, Reelfoot NWR hosts it's annual youth fishing rodeo in June, on Free Fishing Day, where 200+ youth fish for free, win prizes, eat a free meal, and get to spend some quality time with their family. 

    Fishing is allowed on the Grassy Island unit from Feb 1-Nov 14, and the Long Point unit from March 16-Nov 14.  

    For a great place to reconnect with a favorite childhood activity or to try it for the first time, make plans to fish at the Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge. 

  • Wildlife Viewing

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    If you enjoy getting outdoors and looking for wildlife, consider a visit to the Reelfoot NWR!

    From an assortment of waterfowl species to the majestic bald eagle, there is much to see during the winter months.  Concentrations of up to 150,000 ducks and 50,000 geese have been observed at the refuge.  Deer and turkey can be easily viewed down the Grassy Island Wildlife Viewing Road.    

    Reelfoot NWR's trails, boardwalks, observation decks, and boat/canoe launches encourage visitors to discover America’s best wildlife spectacles.  For more information about wildlife observation opportunities at Reelfoot NWR, contact Refuge Ranger Tara Dowdy.

  • Interpretation

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    Refuge System interpretation programs provide opportunities for visitors to make their own connections to the natural world.  From self-guided walks to ranger-led programs, many national wildlife refuges help visitors learn more about the wildlife and habitat behind the landscapes.

    In addition to staff and volunteers presenting programs to audiences, refuges use a variety of exhibits, signs, brochures, and electronic media to communicate natural history stories to visitors.  

    Reelfoot and Lake Isom NWR offer several interpretive kiosks, an interpretive hiking trail at Grassy Island and an interpretive canoe trail at Grassy Island.  

  • Environmental Education

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    National Wildlife Refuges serve many purposes, and one of our most important roles is as outdoor classrooms to teach about wildlife and natural resources.  Reelfoot NWR offers environmental education programs for a variety of audiences.  Refuges provide unique and exciting outdoor environments – excellent locations for hands-on learning activities.  Many youth and adult groups visit every year to learn about a specific topic on wildlife, habitat, or ecological processes.

    Is your school, youth, environmental or other group interested in learning more about the wildlife, plants, habitats and ecology of Reelfoot Lake?  Contact or visit the Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge to check on program availability.  Refuges are wild places, and we want to teach you more about them!

  • Photography


    Perhaps the fastest growing activity on national wildlife refuges in the past ten years has been wildlife photography.  That’s not surprising – the digital camera population explosion and cell phones with ever-improving picture-taking abilities are increasing the number of nature photographers at a rapid rate.  You don’t need to purchase expensive equipment or have any experience to get started.  A small camera or basic cell phone will do just fine for most visitors.

    Nearly 12 million people visit outdoor areas each year to photograph wildlife, and national wildlife refuges naturally are at the top of the list.  Refuges provide enhanced opportunities to photograph wildlife in natural habitats by providing platforms, brochures, interpreters, viewing areas/towers, and tour routes.  Wildlife photography is a high-priority activity in the Refuge System.  Reelfoot NWR welcomes beginning and expert photographers alike to record their outdoor adventures on film, memory card or internal hard drive!  

  • Canoeing

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    Reelfoot NWR has 3 canoe trails for guided and self-guided canoe trips.  From open water, to narrow trails to cypress swamps, these three trails showcase a variety of terrain.  These canoe trails offer a great place for wildlife observation.  Paddle your own canoe or kayak for a self-guided float, or call the Reelfoot NWR Visitor Center to inquire about our free scheduled canoe trips, where canoes are provided.  Waterfowl, eagles, osprey, snakes, turtles, beaver, muskrats, and a variety of other wildlife can be seen, as well as many different species of plants.  Blooming American lotus can be observed on the trails, as well as swamp rose mallow, buttonbush, pickeral weed and spadderdock. For more information regarding canoe trails, please contact the Reelfoot NWR Visitor Center.

    Check out our canoe trail maps!

  • Hiking

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    The Grassy Island Hiking trail is a 1 mile hiking trail.  This trail is wheelchair accessible and is half gravel, half boardwalk.  Interpretive signs are placed throughout the trail for you to read about local plants and wildlife.  The Grassy Island Hiking Trail is open year round.  The trail, as well as the Grassy Island Wildlife Viewing Road, are wonderful places for birders!