Know Before You Go
In the summertime, temperatures and humidity can be extreme and sometimes dangerous! Be sure to bring plenty of insect repellent, drinking water, appropriate footwear, and sunscreen. Early morning and late afternoon are the best times to visit, when temperatures are more moderate and wildlife is most active, especially during the summer.
River levels affect activities on the refuge tremendously. The refuge is affected by the levels of the Mississippi River and the White River, so it's good to be familiar with the river level gauges of both. See this page to view water levels of the White River at St. Charles, near the middle of the refuge (near Highway 1). Once it reaches 26 feet, the North Unit of the refuge closes to deer hunting, and will reopen once the gauges reaches 23.5 feet. Read the Public Use brochure for more information.
Here you can view water levels on the southernmost part of the refuge, impacted by the Mississippi River. When this reaches 145 feet and Graham Burke Outlet reaches 30 feet at the same time, then the South Unit closes to deer hunting. Hunting will reopen when the gauge reads 143 feet and 28 feet in the same locations. Flooding waters and river levels are very dangerous and deserve respect when venturing out on the refuge.
All visitors are encouraged to read and review the Public Use Regulation Brochure before entering the refuge.
An Annual Public Use Permit is required to hunt, fish, launch boats, and utilize campgrounds on Dale Bumpers White River National Wildlife Refuge. The permit cost is $20.00 for those 16 years of age and over, and is free for those 15 years of age and younger. These permits are available and valid from August 1 through July 31 each year. Click here for more information on obtaining an Annual Public Use Permit.
Dale Bumpers White River NWR has hundreds of miles of trails open to both foot traffic and ATVs when designated by yellow blaze on the trees. There are many trails that allow the public to access several parts of the refuge during high water and low water. The trails listed below are open to hiking only to give visitors a chance for solitude and greater wildlife viewing opportunities.
Just outside of the visitor center is the Upland and Bottomland Hardwood Trail that takes you from the uplands, down the escarpment, and into the bottoms. The bottomland portion of this trail can be accessed when the gauge reading of the White River at St. Charles is 28 feet or lower. These trails are open year-round during daylight hours.
Below are ATV trail maps that include refuge boundaries and are geo-referenced. You can use them with a GPS-enabled mobile device to see your location while on the refuge. You will need to import the PDF files to a geo-referenced PDF reader, such as Avenza. These maps should only be used as a reference as some of the trails may be incorrectly identified on these maps. ATVs and UTVs are only allowed on yellow-marked trails and are prohibited on gravel roads.
To find the Office and Visitor Center, turn south by the refuge sign located on Hwy. 1 in St. Charles.