Visit Us

National wildlife refuges offer us all a chance to unplug from the stresses of daily life and reconnect with our natural surroundings. The Howard Creek, Fern Ridge and Pine Creek units are open to upland game and white-tailed deer hunting in accordance with state regulations. If you enjoy wildlife observation or photography these units are also open to those uses. The Fern Ridge unit is the only unit that is open to fishing.

Driving Directions

The visitor contact station is located on Hwy 35 just north of Prairie du Chien, WI.

Fees

There is no charge to visit.

Restrooms

There are no public restroom facilities on this refuge.

Points of Interest

The refuge encompasses 1,238 acres dispersed among multiple units of the Driftless Area in Iowa - a small portion of the entire Driftless Area. This elevated craggy landscape found in 24,000 square miles of Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin, escaped the slowly gliding ice of the Glacial Period or the Paleozoic-age, 500,000 years ago. The refuge supports a rare community of plants and animals that take residence in the slopes.

This area is also known as the karst region and boasts topography of steep slopes and cliffs carved by the boundary of the ancient glacial stampede. Here the glacial deposits found in most of the surrounding area are not present.

The monstrous sheets of ice that surrounded this island of land didn’t carry the rocks, clay, sand and silt found in the landscape beyond. Instead seeds and spores from prehistoric times were left frozen for thousands of years. The Algific (cold air) Talus (loose rock) slopes that make up Driftless Area National Wildlife Refuge, were set aside in 1989 to help recover two federally listed species: the endangered Iowa Pleistocene snail and a colorful flower the threatened northern monkshood.

What To Do

The Howard Creek, Fern Ridge and Pine Creek units have areas open to limited hunting, fishing and wildlife photography and observation. No visitation is allowed on the remaining units to protect fragile algific (cold air) talus (loose rock) slopes and the threatened, endangered and rare plant and animal species found there.

Know Before You Go

Wear sturdy boots or shoes because much of the terrain on the three open units is steep and rugged. There are no public use trails or amenities, so consider bringing water, bug repellent, sunscreen and food. Dress for the weather and be prepared to encounter poison ivy in some areas.

 

Activities

The Howard Creek, Fern Ridge and Pine Creek units have areas open to limited hunting, fishing, wildlife photography and wildlife observation.

Trails

Howard’s Creek

Open season: Year round, 1 hour before sunrise to 1 hour after sunset. No pets, horses, bicycles or motorized vehicles.
Length: 0.8 miles
Location of trail: Howard’s Creek Unit of the refuge in Farmersburg, Iowa
Surface: Earth
Difficulty: Easy
Information: The Howard’s Creek trail is an out and back trail to the creek which begins on the east side of the storage shed. The trail goes through tall grass prairie restoration and low wet meadow areas.

Other Facilities in the Complex

The refuge is complexed with the McGregor District of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge.

Rules and Policies

The Howard Creek, Fern Ridge and Pine Creek units have areas open to limited hunting, fishing, wildlife photography and wildlife observation. No visitation is allowed on the remaining units to protect fragile algific (cold air) talus (loose rock) slopes and the threatened, endangered and rare plant and animal species found there.

Locations

Driftless Area National Wildlife Refuge
470 Cliffhaven Road Prairie Du Chien, WI 53821
Refuge Office
470 Cliffhaven Rd Prairie Du Chien, WI 53821
Pine Creek Unit

Allowed on the unit:

  • Hunting of upland game and white-tailed deer are allowed in accordance with state regulations.
  • Hunting is allowed between November 1 and January 15 or the end of the state established season (whichever comes first).
  • You may only use archery and muzzleloading firearms for deer hunting.
  • Nontoxic shot is required for upland game hunting.
  • Wildlife observation and wildlife photography are also allowed on this unit.

Prohibited on this unit:

  • Construction of permanent blinds or stands is prohibited.  All stands must be removed at the end of each day’s hunt.
  • Spring turkey hunting is prohibited.
  • Fishing is prohibited on this unit.
  • Certain areas are posted closed to public entry.
  • ALL other public uses are prohibited including but not limited to: collecting, camping, horses, mushroom picking, alcohol, fires, trapping, bicycles, and removing vegetation.
Howard Creek Unit

Allowed on the unit:

  • Hunting of upland game and white-tailed deer are allowed in accordance with state regulations.
  • Hunting is allowed between November 1 and January 15 or the end of the state established season (whichever comes first).
  • You may only use archery and muzzleloading firearms for deer hunting.
  • Nontoxic shot is required for upland game hunting.
  • Wildlife observation and wildlife photography are also allowed on this unit.

Prohibited on this unit:

  • Construction of permanent blinds or stands is prohibited.  All stands must be removed at the end of each day’s hunt.
  • Spring turkey hunting is prohibited.
  • Certain areas are posted closed to public entry.
  • Fishing is prohibited on this unit.
  • ALL other public uses are prohibited including but not limited to: collecting, camping, horses, mushroom picking, alcohol, fires, trapping, bicycles, and removing vegetation.
Fern Ridge Unit

Allowed on the unit:

  • Hunting of upland game and white-tailed deer are allowed in accordance with state regulations.
  • Hunting is allowed between November 1 and January 15 or the end of the state established season (whichever comes first).
  • You may only use archery and muzzleloading firearms for deer hunting.
  • Nontoxic shot is required for upland game hunting.
  • Fishing is allowed on this unit.
  • Wildlife observation and wildlife photography are also allowed on this unit.

Prohibited on this unit:

  • Construction of permanent blinds or stands is prohibited.  All stands must be removed at the end of each day’s hunt.
  • Spring turkey hunting is prohibited.
  • Certain areas are posted closed to public entry.
  • ALL other public uses are prohibited including but not limited to: collecting, camping, horses, mushroom picking, alcohol, fires, trapping, bicycles, and removing vegetation.