Visitor Activities


The Refuge Visitor Center and an extensive trail system allow for optimum wildlife observation and photography.

  • Cross-country Skiing and Snowshoeing

    Cross-country Ski Trails

    All five of Rydell's trails (7 miles) are open to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing during the winter season, and both Golden Pond and Round Lake trails will be groomed for skiers. See our Refuge trails map to choose which trails you would like to conquer during your visit. The Refuge does not offer skis or snowshoes at this time, but feel free to bring your own gear and experience the winter wildlife!  

  • Hunting


    Approximately 1,400 acres of Rydell National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) are open to archery deer hunting, upland game hunting, and limited migratory bird hunting. Please consult the Refuge Hunting Brochure for details, Refuge-specific rules, and maps of open areas. Additionally, Rydell NWR conducts two special white-tailed deer hunts. In partnership with the MNDNR, a mentored youth firearm hunt is held in late October, and in partnership with the Options Interstate Resource Center for Independent Living, a deer hunt for people with disabilities is held on the refuge in mid-October. Please contact the refuge for more information on those opportunities.

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  • Fishing


    Anglers can fish for northern pike, walleye, bass and panfish from an accessible pier on Tamarac Lake from May 1 to November 1, there is no ice fishing or fishing by boat. Anglers need to follow Minnesota state regulations. For a chance to reconnect to a favorite childhood activity or try it for the first time, make plans to bring a fishing pole along on your visit to the Tamarac Lake fishing pier.

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  • Wildlife Viewing


    Rydell Refuge offers 7 miles of walking trails to explore the habitats and see the wildlife that make their home on the refuge. Most species of waterfowl and many waterbirds, including the red-necked grebe, can be seen in refuge wetlands. Trumpeter swans, a Minnesota species of special concern, were re-introduced to the area and now nest here each year. Bald eagles and osprey are often seen soaring over the refuge. Resident wildlife species include white-tailed deer, black bear, ruffed grouse, barred owl, pileated woodpecker, long-tailed weasel, red fox, river otter, fisher and beaver. Please keep your exploration to the designated trails.

  • 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 refuge wildlife and habitats. Rydell National Wildlife Refuge hosts a variety of opportunities to connect with nature throughout the year. Programs are free and geared for both youth and adults. Contact the refuge for a schedule and more information about upcoming programs.

  • Environmental Education


    National wildlife refuges serve many purposes and one of our most important roles is as outdoor classrooms to teach about the natural environment. Rydell National Wildlife Refuge’s education program focuses on increasing understanding of the ecological significance of the area and developing a life-long appreciation of wetlands and associated biological diversity. Opportunities include school field outings, guided tours and classroom presentations. All activities are free and include an outdoor or indoor option to avoid poor weather. Contact the refuge to schedule a program. 

  • 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 and tour routes. Wildlife photography is a high-priority activity in the Refuge System. We welcome beginning and expert photographers alike to record their outdoor adventures!