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Visitor Activities

  • Wildlife Viewing

    Child holding brother up to see through binocular

    Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge hosts more than 258 species of birds and is a premier production site for trumpeter swans. It features nesting bald eagles, golden-winged warblers, otters, porcupine, wolves and more. A five-mile wildlife drive will take you on a journey along the edges of forests, marshes and meadows. Scenic overlooks with spotting scopes are available to enhance your views. Wildlife watching is exceptional year round. Whether you hike the trails, launch a boat or cross-county ski your way through the Refuge, you’ll feel the wildness of the North Woods.

  • Hunting

    Woman duck hunting with dog

    Tamarac has been a prized hunting area for centuries and still offers abundant opportunities. The Refuge supports waterfowl, deer, ruffed grouse, squirrel, rabbit and other game species. Refuge hunting seasons follow state and tribal regulations. White Earth Reservation seasons apply on the northern half of the Refuge within the original reservation boundary. Download a Refuge hunting map and regulations brochure or pick one up at the visitor center or one of the Refuge kiosks.  

    NOTE: Tamarac is closed to wolf hunting. 

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  • Fishing

    Young boy holding sunfish

    Popular species found in Refuge lakes are northern pike, walleye, largemouth bass, bluegill, black crappie and perch. Five lakes are open to summer fishing and four lakes are open for ice fishing. There is bank fishing on the Ottertail River at the bridges on County Hwy 26 and 126. Accessible bank fishing has recently been enhanced at County Hwy 126, also called Mitchell Bridge. Ice fishing is a popular activity, please keep in mind that vehicles are not permitted on the ice and shelters may not be left overnight. Fishing on the Refuge is an experience of solitude unlike other populated lakes.

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  • Hiking


    Tamarac offers several miles of hiking trails. On the Old Indian Hiking Trail you’ll follow in the footsteps of the Ojibwe people and experience the beauty of the maple basswood forest. This 2.4 mile loop trail is accessed from County Hwy 29. You can even hike a portion of the 4600 mile North Country National Scenic Trail as it traverses the refuge through a variety of habitats. Access on 400th Ave., Blackbird Wildlife Drive or Pine Lake Parking Area on County Hwy 29. View a trail map here.

  • Photography

    Woman taking a photograph

    Tamarac‘s pristine and diverse landscape offers a chance to photograph wildlife in natural habitats. Enhanced opportunities are provided with observation platforms, guided photo safaris, and workshops. From basking turtles and brilliant blooms to the elusive gray wolf, opportunities to capture the essence of our wild places abound. The Friends of Tamarac offer a competitive photography contest each Fall. You are invited to submit your favorite view of Tamarac Refuge in the categories of wildlife, plants, scenic, recreation and nature’s abstracts. 

  • Interpretation

    Park ranger showing families turtle eggs

    Tamarac provides experiences to create connections between people and the rich mosaic of wildlife and habitats found throughout the Refuge. Self-guided hikes and ranger led programs introduce people to wildlife management activities and challenges. Programs and events are free, involve all ages and provide a variety of opportunities to immerse yourself in nature. Contact the Refuge to learn the next activity on the enticing calendar of events or download a schedule here. Annual events include the Detroit Lakes Festival of Birds held mid-May and the Tamarac Fall Festival the first weekend of October.

  • Environmental Education

    Student measuring a tree

    Tamarac plays an important role in several area communities in providing experiences to connect children and nature. With the partnership of the Friends of Tamarac and a host of volunteers, Tamarac offers guided adventures for students on the Refuge in an expanding environmental education program. Activities introduce natural and social systems, address graduation standards as well as Minnesota’s Environmental Literacy Benchmarks. Tamarac strives to inspire a life-long connection to nature, encourage active stewardship and foster future conservationists. Contact Refuge staff for more information on environmental education opportunities. 

Page Photo Credits — Credit: USFWS
Last Updated: Jun 14, 2016
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