Facility Activities

A variety of outdoor activities are available for the wildlife or outside enthusiast.

The auto-tour route generally remains closed to vehicle traffic after the first major snowfall in December and remains closed until March or April. Visitors are welcome to walk the auto tour route from the small parking lot at its entrance. Check our website or call our office if you have any...

Backpacking is allowed, by permit, on some sites where trails that pass through a refuge are too long or remote to hike in one day.
Biking is a good way to see wildlife, learn about habitats and photograph nature. Yield to pedestrians; many refuge routes are multi-use trails. Biking may be permitted at sites where it is consistent with a refuge’s statutory purpose. E-bikes are permitted on any refuge roads and trails where traditional bicycle use is allowed, if it is consistent with a refuge’s statutory purpose and the refuge manager determines it to be a compatible use.
From bald eagles to spoonbills, from condors to puffins, birds abound on national wildlife refuges. Refuges provide places for birds to nest, rest, feed and breed making them world-renown for their birding opportunities.
Many Fish and Wildlife Service sites make great destinations for flatwater canoeing or kayaking. Some sites have concessions that rent canoes or kayaks. Some sites offer scheduled paddle tours. See individual refuge websites for details.
Rock-climbing is permitted at a small number of national wildlife refuges, including Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma and some refuges in Alaska.
Many refuges in the country's northern tier have backcountry trails that can be used for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in season. Some refuges lend gear or rent it at low cost.
Many sites do not allow dogs because they can disturb wildlife. Refuges that do allow dogs generally require that they be leashed. Some sites allow hunters and sledders to bring dogs.
School program activities are available at a number of facilities.

Fishing is offered along banks of the reservoir and the refuge's rivers --the Minnesota and the Yellowbank. Available species include northern pike, bullhead, smallmouth and largemouth bass, walleye and yellow perch. Boats must stay in the Minnesota River channel; only non-motorized boats or...

Take your pick of 2,100 miles of refreshing trails and boardwalks. Whether you want a short, easy walk or a challenging hike, you’re likely to find what you want. Some trails are paved and universally accessible. Some trails include displays on visual arts, local history and culture or environmental education.

A variety of species can be hunted on Big Stone NWR, but most hunters come here to pursue pheasant. On a good year, sportsmen find birds throughout the grassland habitat that surrounds the refuge's marshes and lakes. The first two weekends of the season can be crowded, but hunters who come later...

Whether you wield a smartphone or a zoom lens, you’ll find photo-worthy subjects at national wildlife refuges and national fish hatcheries. Wildlife photography is a priority public use on national wildlife refuges, so you’ll find wildlife drives and blinds and overlooks to help you get the images you’re after.
Many refuges in the country's northern tier have backcountry trails that can be used for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in season. Some refuges loan out gear or rent it at low cost.
Many refuges champion wildlife viewing as a key recreational activity.