Visitor Activities

Visitors at Swan Lake Refuge
  • Hunting

    Disabled Hunt at Swan Lake Refuge

    Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge is open to waterfowl, goose, squirrel, dove, and deer hunting only.


    Squirrel Hunting is open on Swan Lake NWR in the designated Squirrel Hunting Unit (Click here for hunting map) from May 28, 2018 through October 28, 2018.  


    Goose hunting is permitted during the late portion of Missouri’s state goose season and the Snow Goose Conservation Order season only. We have one accessible hunting blind; to make reservations, please contact the refuge headquarters during normal business hours at 660-856-3323 ext 13 or by email at email.

    Click for available pdf 2019 Goose Hunt Flyer with Map


    During the waterfowl season hunting units are awarded through a lottery draw.  A draw is conducted every two weeks to award hunting units to hunters.  To apply for waterfowl hunt draws and get more information visit 

    For more information about the draw check out: Draw Application and Procedure . 

    Whitetail Deer 

    The refuge conducts managed deer hunts each year in partnership with the Missouri Department of Conservation. Hunters may apply for managed deer hunts through the Missouri Department of Conservation draw system conducted each summer, usually July 1 through August 15 of each year. More information about the draw is provided here: The refuge also conducts a special hunt for hunters with disabilities that can be applied for at the link above as well. To apply, contact the refuge at 660-856-3323 ext 13 or email.    


    Dove Hunting is open at Swan Lake NWR at specific locations during the Missouri Dove Season up until the date the Refuge closes for fall waterfowl migration. 

    Dove Hunting is open on Swan Lake NWR in the designated Dove Hunting Unit only (see Map Below).  Dove Hunting is open at Swan Lake NWR from September 1, 2018 through October 28, 2018. Dove hunting is done in Accordance with Missouri State Regulations for Dove Hunting (see page 8 of the MDC Migratory Bird and Waterfowl Hunting Digest 2018-2019) in addition to the following:

    Nontoxic shot only.

    Pack out empty shotgun shells & boxes with your other trash when you leave.

    Hunters must check-in and out at the Hunters Headquarters prior to and upon leaving the hunt area. All check-in and out procedures must be followed as posted at the self-check in station at the Hunting Headquarters. Hunters may check in 2 hours prior to official sunrise.

    Hunters must possess the following while Dove Hunting on Swan Lake NWR:

    1. Missouri Small Game Hunting Permit

    2. Migratory Bird Hunting Permit 

    3. Bottom portion of the MDC Hunter Harvest Tag obtained at check-in

    Hunters must park in designated parking areas only and may not drive into hunting fields. Do not park along access roads.  

    Hunting dogs used for Dove Hunting are allowed for retrieval only and must be under the control of the owner at all times.  

    Hunters must have all of their, and only their, harvested birds for the day in their possession at all times.

    No overnight camping on the Refuge or in Refuge parking areas.

    Alcoholic beverages are prohibited on Swan Lake NWR. 

    Swan Lake NWR Dove Hunting Flyer 

    Learn More
  • Fishing

    Fishing at Swan Lake Refuge

    The refuge is open to fishing in accordance with Missouri fishing regulations from the 1st Saturday of March through the last Sunday of October during daylight hours only. Motorized boats are only allowed on Silver Lake, which has a “no wake” rule. Non-motorized boats may be used on other waters on the refuge. The most common fish species are channel catfish, flathead, bullhead, carp, buffalo, and crappie. We have fishing platforms located along the shores of Silver Lake for those anglers that want easy access.

    Learn More
  • Wildlife Viewing

    Observation Platform at Swan Lake

    Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge is a great place for seeing a variety of birds. The most commonly seen birds are waterfowl and shorebirds. The best viewing for waterfowl is during the spring migration, where nearly every waterfowl species in the Central Flyway can be seen using the refuge’s wetlands. April and May are good times to look for shorebirds. Evenings are the best time to view deer. Many visitors make their way through the refuge just before dark to try and get a glimpse of a large buck.

  • Interpretation

    Snake Program

    Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge is home to many interpretive programs. The most popular is “First Fridays at the Refuge”, which is held on the first Friday of each month from April through August. First Fridays are a fun, family-oriented, outdoor-themed event which lasts through the evening hours and includes activities for children and adults. The refuge, in partnership with Ducks Unlimited, also hosts a Greenwing Day in the fall.

  • Environmental Education

    Environmental Education at Swan Lake

    Swan Lake hosts three major environmental education programs for school groups. Each May, the refuge hosts our Annual 8th Grade Outdoors Day for area students. In September, the refuge puts on grassland and wetland tours for area 5th–7th grade students. While participating in these hands on tours, students learn about key refuge habitats and how they are managed to benefit migratory birds and other wildlife. Our most popular environmental education program is “Nocturnal Creatures”, conducted each October for area 1st–4th grade students. Children get to learn about how nocturnal animals survive and all about the creatures of the night who call Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge “home.”

  • Photography

    Reflecting Water

    The refuge provides wonderful opportunities for photographers interested in wildlife and the outdoors. From ducks to deer, there are photos just waiting to be taken. From time to time, the refuge will host a photo contest for pictures taken on site. We also encourage visitors to share their more interesting photos with us so we can share them with other visitors. Some photographers take advantage of the accessible goose hunting blind on Silver Lake, which makes a great place from which to take photos. From March through October the entire refuge is open and available for photography.