Visitor Activities

Sandhill Cranes by Mark Nicholson

For trip planning details, visit our Plan Your Visit and Maps pages!

  • Wildlife Viewing

    Wildlife Viewing by Bruce Ellingson

    The Prairie's Edge Wildlife Drive, Blue Hill and Mahnomen Hiking Trails all offer spectacular views and great opportunities to see Sherburne's myriad of wildlife species. Observation decks with spotting scopes give visitors the chance to scan for wildlife across the landscape.

    Songbirds, raptors, and waterfowl abound and an early morning hike can provide the the visitor with an enchanting symphony of sounds. Even a glimpse at red or grey fox, beaver, or river otter are possible to the quiet observer! For bird and wildlife sightings, visit the Recent Sightings and Guides page.

    In October, thousands of sandhill cranes converge on the refuge marshes and a visit at dawn or dusk will provide the rare treat of large flocks of birds flying in or out of the refuge. Reference the Sandhill Crane Viewing Brochure for more information!  

  • Interpretation

    Wagon Rides Bruce Ellingson

    For a more guided experience, join us at one of our interpretative programs or events! Celebrate International Migratory Bird Day in mid-May each year, when refuge tours, children's activities, information booths, and a perennial plant sale are held. An annual Wildlife Festival is held each fall in the end of September, offering live animal programs, educational activities, hands-on informational booths, and horse-drawn wagon rides. 

    For current and upcoming events, visit our Events Calendar!

  • Photography

    Wildlife Photography at Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge

    There are many great photographic opportunities during a visit to Sherburne, especially along the Prairie's Edge Wildlife Drive. Prairie wildflowers bloom from late spring through fall, waterfowl and other wetland birds are abundant, and bald eagles nest nearby. Even songbirds will often sit long enough for a quick shot when using your vehicle as a blind. With a stop at the beginning of the Wildlife Drive, bird and wildflower sighting notes are left by Volunteer Roving Interpreters to provide you with current information on species being seen and where to look. For information and regulations for commercial still photography and commercial filming, reference the Rules and Regulations page. 

    Another opportunity for photographers is the Sherburne NWR Photography Club. They meet the second Wednesday of the month at the Oak Savanna Learning Center, with social time starting at 6:30 pm and the meeting starting at 7:00 pm. They welcome and encourage new members to attend and all experience levels are welcome. They also schedule field trips, educational programs and other opportunities as they arise. Check out their flyer, brochure, or Facebook page for more information!

  • Nature Education

    Nature Education

    Sherburne Refuge takes a community approach to nature education and uses a model called the "Expedition Model." Like Lewis and Clark, we need to plan carefully, select skilled people from the community to join our team, and expect a long-term commitment from our partners to reach our goal of connecting kids to nature. For more information about our education programming and field trip opportunities, visit our For Educators page!

  • Hunting

    Hunting Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge

    Sherburne provides hunting opportunities for small game, migratory birds, and white-tailed deer in accordance with all applicable federal and state laws, and subject to special refuge regulations. 

    All hunting is prohibited March 1 to August 31, during the refuge wildlife sanctuary period. The refuge is not open for deer muzzleloader, mourning dove, crow, predator, coyote, bear, raccoon or general turkey hunting. Only those species listed in the Refuge Hunting Regulations Brochure may be taken. The refuge has a limited spring turkey hunt available for hunters with disabilities and youth, by special permit only. Please contact refuge headquarters for details.

    The refuge is divided into three hunting areas, each with its own regulations and there are three small areas closed to all hunting. 

    2018 UPDATE: Brande Rd. entrance off CR 9 is open Sept. 1 until winter closure and will be maintained for vehicle access to Long Pool through firearm deer season. Following that it will close when weather warrants. 

    Refuge Hunting Regulations and Map 

    Minnesota Hunting 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

    Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge

    Fishing is allowed on the refuge following Minnesota State Regulations. From March 1 to August 31, fishing is allowed only from non-motorized boats on the St. Francis canoe route and on banks within 100 yards up or down-stream of the designated fishing access points specificied on our Public Use Regulations and Map Brochure. From September 1 to February 28, fishing is allowed throughout the entire refuge, except for the closed area.