Visit Us

National wildlife refuges offer us all a chance to unplug from the stresses of daily life and reconnect with our natural surroundings. Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge is located in northwest Minnesota. Packs of wolves, moose, waterfowl and 300 species of birds make this refuge a wildlife wonderland.

Driving Directions

The refuge headquarters is located on Marshall County Road 7 (290th Street NE), 12 miles north of Thief River Falls and 11 miles east of Holt, Minnesota.

Fees

There is no charge to visit.

Restrooms

Restrooms are available inside the refuge headquarters and visitor contact station. Two comfort stations are also available, one at the headquarters parking lot and another at the southwest corner of the refuge near the entrance to Rodahl Hiking Trail.

Points of Interest

There are kiosks located near both the east and west refuge entrances to welcome you and provide the information needed to give you a good start to exploring the refuge. There is also a kiosk located in our headquarters parking lot. If you’re visiting during our office hours, let our staff at the visitor contact station help you plan your visit! This is a great starting point for visitors to become more familiar with the refuge and the wildlife that live here.

What To Do

If you have 15-minutes

  • Stop by the visitor contact station
  • Enjoy the view from the Parker Pool observation deck
  • Take a quick stroll on the headquarters hiking trail

If you have one hour

  • Take your time hiking one or two of the three trails
  • Take the four-mile Lost Bay Habitat Drive

Know Before You Go

When planning a trip to the refuge, it is important to wear appropriate footwear for hiking and to dress for the weather. Consider bringing water, food, binoculars, field guides, a hat, sunscreen, insect repellent and anything else that might make your outdoor experience more enjoyable.

Visitor Tips

Wildlife observation opportunities are best in the early morning or late afternoon hours, when animals are foraging for food. The diversity of waterfowl species that flock to the refuge is one of the main attractions for visitors.

Waterfowl observation periods

  • Canada geese and trumpeter swans start arriving in mid-March 
  • Ducks start arriving in early April
  • May through mid-June is the best time to observe ducks, when their colorful spring plumage makes identification easier
  • Goslings can be observed as early as the first week in May, and ducklings as early as the third week in May
  • Peak fall populations of Canada geese and ducks occurs from late-September through October

Other popular viewing opportunities

  • Sandhill Cranes: April 25 - May 5 and September 25 - October 10
  • Franklin’s Gulls: May 1 - July 15 
  • Warblers: May 15 - 25
  • Sparrow species: May 15 - 25
  • Shorebirds: May 20 - 30 and August 15 - September 15
  • Moose Calves: May 15 - June 15
  • Moose Rut: September 15 - October 31
     

Activities

The refuge offers a self-guided auto tour drive, three hiking trails and observation decks with spotting scopes, all which provide visitors opportunities for nature study, wildlife observation and photography. All are open from May through mid-October during daylight hours. It's always good to call ahead if planning a trip to make sure facilities are open and available.

For a true bird’s-eye view of the refuge and surrounding area, visitors can climb the 100-foot tower located near headquarters. You can obtain a key for the tower during office hours during snow-free months. 

Trails

Headquarters Hiking Trail

Open Season: May through mid-October
Length: 0.5 mile
Location of trail: Headquarters
Surface: Crushed rock, ADA compliant
Difficulty: Easy
Information: The trail begins at the refuge headquarters and visitor contact station. The trail winds through an aspen forest and includes a short boardwalk leading to an observation blind overlooking a wetland. The trail ends near the headquarters parking lot. Several benches offer quiet places to rest and observe nature.

Maakstad Hiking Trail

Open Season: May through mid-October
Length: 0.25 mile
Location of trail: Along the auto tour drive
Surface: Mowed grass
Difficulty: Easy
Information: The trail loops through a small, mature hardwood forest. It starts and ends near the Maakstad parking area.

Rodahl Trail

Open Season: May through mid-October
Length: 1.5 miles
Location of trail: In the southwest portion of the refuge near Farmers Pool
Surface: Crushed rock, ADA compliant 
Difficulty: Easy
Information: The trail intersects a portion of the refuge’s 9,000 acres of forestland. This straight trail ends at an observation deck and observation blind overlooking wetland habitat where you may see wading birds and a variety of waterfowl.

Other Facilities in the Complex

In addition to the main refuge, staff at Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge also manage two units of the Northern Tallgrass Prairie National Wildlife Refuge and a 510-acre Waterfowl Production Area.

Northern Tallgrass Prairie National Wildlife Refuge was established in 2000 to address the loss of America’s grasslands and the decline of grassland wildlife. This refuge encompasses all or part of 85 counties in western Minnesota and northwestern Iowa. 

The units managed by Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge staff are located in Kittson County near Karlsad, Minnesota. These tracts of land are aspen parkland habitat, which is a transitional zone between the coniferous forest and tallgrass prairie habitat.

The Walton Waterfowl Production Area was purchased in 2012 using Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp dollars. The stamp, commonly known as the Duck Stamp is what waterfowl hunters are required to have in their possession while hunting. This property provides nesting habitat for a variety of waterfowl, grassland birds and other wildlife. This property also helps reduce erosion, clean and protect ground water and reduce flooding

Rules and Policies

To ensure your safety and protect wildlife and habitat, please be aware of these regulations.

General Refuge Regulations

  • Open during daylight hours only (sunrise to sunset)
  • Dogs and other pets must be kept on a leash at all times
  • Hiking allowed on designated trails - please see the map
  • Obey posted speed limits
  • Please pack out your trash
  • No overnight parking, camping or fires are allowed
  • Off-road vehicles (including snowmobiles), trail bikes, horses and dogsleds are not permitted
  • All watercraft (motorized and non-motorized) are prohibited
  • Launching, landing, or operating an aircraft to include unmanned aircraft (drone) is not permitted on refuge property
  • Collecting, removing and disturbing plants, animals and/or their parts is prohibited (for example, shed antlers, berries and mushrooms)
     

Locations

Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge
22996 290th Street Northeast Middle River, MN 56737-9754
Driving Directions

The refuge headquarters is located on Marshall County Road 7 (290th Street NE), 12 miles north of Thief River Falls and 11 miles east of Holt, Minnesota.

Hours
Headquarters office and visitor contact station hours
Monday - Friday
7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. except federal holidays
Weather closures
The office may be closed due to weather if area schools are closed
Lost Bay habitat drive and hiking trail hours
May - mid-October
During daylight hours as conditions allow