Visitor Activities

Wildlife Observation 2012

Adventures are waiting for you on the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge. Download the refuge brochure to find your next adventure.

  • Visitor Centers

    Onalaska, Wisconsin is home to a Visitor Center with exhibits and walking paths through the prairie.  Special programs are offered throughout the year.  


    Thomson, Illinois is home to the Ingersoll Wetlands Learning Center and includes wildlife exhibits.  

    Both facilities have bookstores with wildlife books and other items, the stores are managed by the Friends Groups and benefits the refuge environmental education program.

  • Wildlife Viewing

    viewing wildlife

     There are observation decks, pull-offs, and canoe and bike trails to help you observe the natural wonders of the Refuge.  Although boating provides the most intimate look at this river system, many visitors enjoy viewing the Refuge’s wild and scenic beauty from blufftop overlooks in state and local parks bordering the Refuge.  The Refuge and its wildlife mark time by the ancient rhythms of spring, summer, fall and winter.  If you enjoy birdwatching, the Refuge BirdList provides information on nesting and the seasonal abundance of birds. 


  • Hunting


    The Refuge is known for its waterfowl hunting.   

    Refuge Rules and Regulations 

    Maps of the Refuge  


  • Fishing

    Perch and Clark

     The Refuge is an anglers’ paradise, and is known for walleye, largemouth bass, crappie, catfish and bluegill.  There are year-round fishing opportunities including many ice fishing locations.  Fishing is allowed in accordance with state and federal regulations.  

    Refuge Specific Regulations



  • Environmental Education


     The Refuge’s environmental education program focuses on increasing understanding of the Refuge.  The programs strive 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. 


  • Canoe Trails


     Marked canoe trails wind through the marshes and backwater areas of the Refuge.  Canoe areas provide quiet, peaceful areas to paddle a canoe or kayak.  Explore your National Wildlife Refuge by water.


    Canoe trail maps and gpx files.


  • Wildlife Photography


    Wildlife on the refuge are waiting to be captured by photographers.  Patience and time allow photographers to capture the wildlife of the skies and forests.   Good luck on your photographic journey.


  • Interpretive Signs


    The overlook signs and kiosk signs help you learn more about the refuge wildlife and management.  Programs are offered and free.  Check with the Refuge Ranger staff to find out when the next program is offered and locations where signs can help you connect with the river refuge.

  • Exploring the Mississippi River


    The Great River Road borders the entire river Refuge.  You can find your adventure on the Refuge by exploring the Great River Road and using the Mississippi River Geotourism Map Guide.

     Great River Road National Scenic Byway
    National Geographic Mississippi River