Visitor Activities

Sunrise - Mark Lindvall

Sunrise over the Refuge at the CCC Fire Tower Trail Observation Deck.

Whether its bird watching, fishing, hiking, touring, or hunting, Valentine National Wildlife Refuge is great spot to enjoy the great outdoors.

  • Hunting

    Hunting Dog

    Valentine National Wildlife Refuge is one of the few places where hunters can seek out both sharp-tailed grouse and prairie chickens in the vastness of over 100 square miles of native prairie. Part of the Refuge is open to waterfowl hunting, and pheasants can be found around the many lakes and marshes. Rifle, archery, and muzzle loader hunters come to hunt both mule and white-tailed deer. Dove and coyote hunting is also permitted. Check the refuge fishing and hunting brochure for special regulations and open areas. Hunting seasons, except for coyote, license requirements, and bag limits are the same as the rest of the state and can be found at  

  • Fishing

    Ice Fisherman - Mark Lindvall

    Nine Refuge lakes, of which 7 have boat ramps and fishing docks, are open to fishing. Perch, bluegill, northern pike, and large mouthed bass are most sought after. A small boat, electric motors only allowed, waders, or a float tube is helpful in fishing these shallow lakes. Ice fishing is very popular in the winter months, check ice fishing dates to plan on when to come.  The refuge fishing and hunting brochure shows lakes open to fishing and Refuge specific regulations.  Fishing license requirements and bag limits are the same as the rest of the state and can be found at  Contour maps of lakes open to fishing and records of Master Angler fish from the Refuge can also be found on the Outdoor Nebraska Master Angler Awards web site.

  • Bird Watching and Wildlife Viewing

    Bird Watching - Mark Lindvall

    Bird watching in May, September, and October offers the chance to see both resident and migratory birds. The Refuge wildlife list contains over 270 species that have been sighted on the Refuge. The list also recommends areas and times of year to see these birds. The Little Hay Road Wildlife Drive goes along lakes and marshes as well as by sandy hills and offers wildlife viewing from a vehicle. Walk the Civilian Conservation Corps Nature Trail, passing through wooded habitat and grasslands, with a chance to see a variety of birds. Most of the native mammals, reptiles, and amphibians present in historical times are still present today. Early morning or just before sunset are the best times to view them. Check off what you see on the Refuge wildlife list. For a recorded birding report call 402-376-1889 extension 703.

  • Marsh Lakes Overlook

    Marsh Lakes Overlook - Mark Lindvall

    Displays at the Marsh Lakes Overlook provide information on Refuge history, management, wildlife, and the Sandhills ecosystem. The overlook and a short nature trail have great views of Refuge grasslands and marshes.

  • Civilian Conservation Corps Nature Trail

    CCC Nature Trail

    The Civilian Conservation Corps Nature Trail starts at the parking area on the west end of Hackberry Lake and leads to an observation deck located on the old fire tower. Prairie plants are identified along the trail. Information on CCC history, ecology of the Sandhills, bird watching, and a spectacular view of the prairie can all be found at the old fire tower.

  • Little Hay Road Wildlife Drive

    Auto Tour Drive

    The 9-mile Little Hay Road Wildlife Drive traverses the western part of the Refuge. This gravel road, which goes by three lakes, through high hills, and along meadows and marshes, offers opportunities to view wildlife from a car. A brochure, available at the entrance, interprets things you will see along the drive.

    This refuge map shows the locations of these outdoor learning spots.

  • Environmental Education

    Boy and Turtle

    National Wildlife Refuges serve many purposes, and one of our most important roles is as outdoor classrooms to teach about wildlife and natural resources.  Many refuges offer environmental education programs for a variety of audiences.  Refuges provide unique and exciting outdoor environments – excellent locations for hands-on learning activities.  Thousands of youth and adult groups visit every year to learn about a specific topic on wildlife, habitat, or ecological processes.

    Please contact us at 402-376-1889 if your school, youth, or environmental group is interested in visiting and learning more about the wildlife, plants, habitats, and management of the Refuge. We will do our best to either provide a speaker or suggest a location that might meet your outdoor classroom needs.

  • Photography

    Grouse Blind

    Grouse Blinds

    Observation blinds for viewing and photographing prairie chicken and sharp-tailed grouse courtship displays are available by reservation in April and early May. Plan a trip to view these amazing prairie dances. Both prairie grouse species put on a good show that is well worth getting up in the early morning to see. Blinds are located right at the edge of the dancing grounds and offer excellent opportunities for observation and photography. Sometimes the grouse even call from the top of the blind! Call the Refuge at 402-376-1889 for reservations and directions to the blinds. Learn more about the photography blinds and the grouse displays.