National wildlife refuges offer us all a chance to unplug from the stresses of daily life and reconnect with our natural surroundings. Great River National Wildlife Refuge is made up of three remote units along the Mississippi River. Fox Island and Long Island Divisions provide primitive opportunities to explore river habitats and wildlife by foot or boat. Directions to these divisions are available by viewing the maps. The Delair Division is closed to the public as a condition of the purchase.
Great River National Wildlife Refuge spans across multiple divisions and locations. Check the public use regulations brochure for a map of each division’s location. The headquarter office is located at Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuge between St. Louis and Hannibal, Missouri. To get to the headquarters, take Missouri State Highway 79 to the town of Annada, Missouri. From Annada, travel one mile east on Pike County Road 206 to the refuge headquarters.
There is no charge to visit.
Restrooms are available inside the refuge headquarters and visitor contact station in Annada, MO.
Additionally, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Bear Creek Recreation Area at the Long Island Division has restrooms onsite.
Points of Interest
Great River National Wildlife Refuge is made up of remote units along the Mississippi River. Fox Island and Long Island Divisions provide primitive opportunities to explore river habitats and wildlife by foot or boat. The Delair Division is closed to the public as a condition of the purchase.
The Long Island Division was named as an "Important Bird Area" by the National Audubon Society because it met criteria for wading birds, shorebirds, and waterfowl.
What To Do
If you have an hour or more
- The Fox Island Division can be accessed from the west side off County Road 317. At the parking lot there is entrance to a road that is limited to foot travel only. Sand grasslands, bottomland forests and sloughs can be easily accessed from this location.
- At the Long Island Division, one could drive to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Bear Creek Recreation Area using North 2400th Avenue and picnic, camp and hike through the bottomland forest full of towering pecans. There is an improved boat launch at this location that is the nearest boat access to the remaining 6000 acres of islands, sloughs, ponds and bottomland forests at this division.
Know Before You Go
Wildlife at Great River National Wildlife Refuge flourishes due to the remoteness of most units. Many areas of the refuge are difficult to access due to road conditions or require the use of a boat, but those that are open to public use provide generous opportunities for viewing wildlife. There are no restrooms or water fountains on any of the divisions of the refuge. Dress appropriately for the season and bring plenty of drinking water, snacks, insect repellant, sunscreen and other necessities.
Many areas of the refuge are difficult to access due to road conditions or the need for a boat, but those that are open to public use provide generous opportunities for viewing wildlife. Dress for the activity in which you are participating and don’t forget to pack sunscreen, bug spray and water.
Great River National Wildlife Refuge provides many opportunities to enjoy outdoor activities. Available activities vary at the different divisions. For more information on specific activities, please check the public use regulations brochure or call the refuge before your visit.
Other Facilities in the Complex
Great River National Wildlife Refuge Complex is comprised of three refuges: Great River National Wildlife Refuge, Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuge and Middle Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge. The complex spans two states (Illinois and Missouri) and includes a series of island and land divisions along the Mississippi River. All three refuges are managed from the headquarters building located at Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuge in Annada, MO.
Rules and Policies
Great River National Wildlife Refuge is open for general use during daylight hours only, except in the case of lawful hunting activities which may occur from ½ hour before legal sunrise to ½ hour after legal sunset. Please check the hunting and fishing regulations brochure for other specific regulations regarding general use of the refuge.
- The refuge is open to public use during daylight hours only, except in the case of lawful hunting activities which may occur from 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset based on state regulations
- Hiking is allowed on refuge roads and trails, unless otherwise posted
- ATVs are not allowed on the refuges
- Dogs must be on a leash except when used for the purpose of hunting where hunting is allowed
- Berry and mushroom gathering are allowed for personal consumption only, not for resale or other commercial use
- Collecting shed deer antlers is not permitted
- Firearms are allowed on the refuge during authorized hunting activities. When transporting firearms on refuge roads or waters, firearms must be unloaded and either dismantled or cased, unless in compliance with state concealed/carry regulations.
- For hunting, you may use or possess only approved nontoxic shot shells while in the field, including shot shells used for hunting wild turkey
- Camping or fires are not permitted
- To help meet the primary refuge purpose of providing an inviolate refuge for migratory birds, areas within the refuge may be closed to public use due to breeding and/or migration
- Special group trips (school groups, scouts, etc.) are encouraged. Guided group tours may sometimes be arranged in advance by contacting the refuge office.