Visitor Activities

Trail at Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge
  • Hunting

    Hunter in Wheelchair

    Hunting opportunities are abundant within Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge. The area includes diverse habitats that provide excellent opportunities for deer and small game hunting. Hunting areas are available in designated locations marked with "Public Hunting Area" signs. Hunting brochures, showing areas open to hunting and describing special regulations, are available at some parking lots and at the refuge office. For updated information, contact the refuge office at 218-768-2402.

    Rice Lake Hunting Map and Regulations

    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

  • Fishing

    Fishing at Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge

    Fishing is popular at Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge and there are easily accessible areas along the Rice River. Locations are posted with "Public Fishing Area" signs, and fishing leaflets 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. Also, please note that during the winter the Auto Tour route is closed at the Mandy Lake area.  So, not all locations are always accessible by vehicle.  Fish that are commonly caught include northern pike, yellow perch, bullhead, bigmouth buffalo, and bluegill. Contact the refuge office at 218-768-2402 for more information. 

    Rice Lake Fishing Map & Regulations (PDF)

  • Wildlife Viewing

    Juvenile Red Fox

    Look and listen for eagles, loons, swans, flocks of ducks, flitting warblers and other critters at Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Gray wolves, black bear, bobcat, white-tailed deer, beaver, porcupine, and even the occasional moose are sighted. Tracks and sign tell you they are here even if they are secretive. Explore the 14-mile wildlife drive loop, visit the dock at Mandy Lake, spend time on the Rice Lake Observation Platform or hike on the seven-mile loop trail system. Binoculars and field guides are available for loan from the refuge visitor center.

    Rice Lake Auto Tour Map

    Rice Lake Hiking Trails Map

  • Interpretation

    Children looking at field guides

    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 of Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge provides a calendar of events that highlights a variety of opportunities throughout the year, such as International Migratory Bird Day, bird/bat house building, bird banding, and the Christmas Bird Count. Programs and events are free, geared for youth and adults and provide a range of opportunities that maximize first-hand experiences at the refuge. Contact the refuge office at 218-768-2402 for more information about upcoming programs.

  • 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.

  • Photography

    Wildlife photographers on the refuge

    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.

    Rice Lake National Wildlife 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 and does not require a special use permit. Refuge regulations must be followed while conducting commercial still photography. Additionally, sets and props, promotion and blocking public spaces are not permitted while conducting commercial still photography. Sets and props include, but are not limited to, backdrops, lighting banks, horses, camping equipment, campfires, couches and so forth, when used to stage a specific scene. The use of a camera on a tripod, without the use of any other equipment, is not considered a prop. Images captured at the refuge cannot be used to promote or sell a product or service. Photos taken on the refuge, including wedding and senior photos, cannot be used on business cards, brochures, websites, social media or displays.

    All commercial filming requires a special use permit. Reference the Permits page for more information.