Visitor Activities

Trail at Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge
  • Wildlife Viewing

    Juvenile Red Fox

    Look and listen for eagles, loons, swans, flocks of ducks, flitting warblers and other critters. Gray wolves, black bear, bobcat, white-tailed deer, beaver, porcupine and even the occasional moose are sighted. Tracks and signs are left behind by even the most secretive wildlife.

    Explore the 14-mile wildlife drive loop, visit the dock at Mandy Lake, spend time on the Rice Lake Overlook or hike on the seven-mile loop trail system. Binoculars and field guides are available for loan from the refuge office during the week.

    Auto Tour Map

    Hiking Trails Map

  • Photography

    Wildlife photographers on the refuge

    The refuge provides enhanced opportunities to photograph wildlife in natural habitats by providing platforms, brochures, interpreters, viewing areas and tour routes. Wildlife photography is a high-priority activity in the refuge system, and we welcome beginning and expert photographers alike! 

    Commercial still photography is allowed following refuge regulations and does not require a special use permit. Reference the Rules and Regulations page for specifics. All commercial filming requires a special use permit.

  • Fishing

    Fishing at Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge

    Fishing is popular and there are easily accessible areas along the Rice River. Locations are posted with "Public Fishing Area" signs, and fishing brochures are available at the refuge office. Refuge fishing areas are open in accordance with Minnesota seasons and dates. Mandy Lake and Twin Lakes are also open to fishing, but most anglers are more successful on Rice River. An accessible floating pier is also available at Mandy Lake. Non-motorized boats or boats with electric motors are allowed on these waters.

    Ice fishing is permitted. However, the use of gas-powered ice augers is not allowed. Ice fishing shelters must be removed from the ice at the end of each day. Note that during the winter the Auto Tour route is closed at the Mandy Lake area, making some areas inaccessible by vehicle.

    Fish that are commonly caught include northern pike, yellow perch, bullhead, bigmouth buffalo, and bluegill.

    Fishing Map & Regulations

  • Hunting

    Hunter in Wheelchair

    Hunting opportunities are abundant. The areas open to hunting include diverse habitats that provide excellent opportunities for deer and small game hunting. These areas are marked with "Public Hunting Area" signs and are denoted on the Hunting Map and Regulations Brochure. Copies of this publication are available at some parking lots and at the refuge office.

    The refuge encourages deer hunters to consider using lead free ammunition while hunting. Research has found that lead pieces left behind in the gut piles of deer are dangerous and even deadly to the eagles and other wildlife that eat them. Learn more at fws.gov/midwest/refuges/leadfree.html.

  • Interpretation

    Children looking at field guides

    The refuge offers self-guided hikes and staff-led programs throughout the year. Programs include bird banding and bird/bat house building in June in conjunction with celebrating World Migratory Bird Day and the Christmas Bird Count in December.

    Programs and events are free, geared for youth and adults and provide a range of opportunities that maximize first-hand experiences at the refuge.

  • Environmental Education

    Children in environmental education program

    Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge hosts elementary and high school classes from local schools, as well as home-school programs. While teachers are welcome to schedule refuge visits, there is no formal curriculum for refuge programs. Programs are presented in nearby schools and the refuge participates in educational programs like the Envirothon and Big Sandy Water Institute. The refuge also works collaboratively with The Friends of Rice Lake Refuge to sponsor workshops, which include various environmental education themed events and crafts.