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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.

  • Hunting

    Waterfowl Hunting on the Refuge1

    Hunting and trapping have a deep history and tradition on the refuge. Most hunting opportunities are in wetlands, on islands and in floodplain forest accessible mainly by boat. Portions of the refuge are open to hunting and trapping in accordance with federal, state, and local regulations with the most restrictive regulations applying on the refuge.

    Hunting Brochure
    Public Use Brochure

     In addition there are special hunts that require application and permits:

  • Fishing

    Fishing in Savanna District on the Refuge2

    The refuge is an anglers paradise. The refuge 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. Please consider using non-lead alternatives for fishing tackle. Lead is a toxic metal that affects the nervous and reproductive system of mammals and birds. Help the refuge wildlife by switching to lead-free tackle.

    Kids Ice Fishing Day

  • Trapping


     Trapping has a deep history and tradition on the refuge. Portions of the refuge are open to trapping in accordance with federal, state, and local regulations.


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  • Environmental Education

    Exploration is the best way to learn about the river refuge.2

    The refuge's environmental education program focuses on increasing understanding of the river 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. 

  • Wildlife Viewing

    Winter Wildlife Watching1

    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 refuge, 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, marks time by the ancient rhythms of spring, summer, fall and winter.  If you enjoy birdwatching the refuge Bird List provides information on nesting and seasonal abundance of birds.


  • Canoe Trails


    Marked canoe trails wind through the marshes and backwater areas of the refuge.  Canoe areas provide quite, peaceful areas to paddle a canoe or kayak.   Explore your national wildlife refuge.

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  • Walking Trails and Bike Paths


    There are a few trails throughout the refuge.  Explore either by walking or on the bicycle trails that are adjacent or wind through part of the refuge. 

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  • Great River Road


    The Great River Road borders the entire river refuge.  You can find your adventure on the refuge by exploring the Great River Road and the neighboring river communities.

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  • Photography

    Wildlife Photography

    The refuge is the perfect place to capture a sunrise or sunset. The river refuge has opportunities for brilliant blooms, birds and basking turtles.  Be patient and silent to capture the magical moments on the refuge.

  • Interpretation


    The Refuge 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. Check the calendar of events to learn the next activity planned on the Refuge. There are information kiosks at boat landings that include messages to help a visitor make their own connection to the river refuge.


    If you are visiting the La Crosse/Onalaska, Wisconsin area be sure to stop in the La Crosse District Visitor Center.


    If you are visiting the Quad Cities or Galena, Illinois area be sure to stop in the Savanna District Visitor Center also called the Ingersoll Wetlands Learning Center.


Page Photo Credits — Credit: USFWS
Last Updated: Sep 21, 2016
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