Welcome to Horicon Marsh! At more than 33,000 acres, Horicon Marsh is one of the largest freshwater marshes in the United States and is a critical rest stop for thousands of migrating ducks and Canada geese. It is recognized as a Wetland of International Importance, as both Globally and State Important Bird Areas and is also a unit of the Ice Age Scientific Reserve. Located in Dodge and Fond du Lac counties, Horicon Marsh is fed by the Rock River which flows through the refuge following a course through southern Wisconsin and eventually ending in the Mississippi River at Rock Island, Illinois.
blue entrance sign with redheaded duck drawing at horicon national wildlife refuge visitor center
Horicon Marsh

Horicon National Wildlife Refuge (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

The northern two-thirds of Horicon Marsh is managed federally by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as the 22,000 acre Horicon National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge was established in 1941 to provide an undisturbed sanctuary for a number of migratory birds and waterfowl including the redhead duck as well as to provide opportunities for people to connect with nature through many wildlife dependent recreational activities such as wildlife observation, photography, environmental education, interpretation, fishing and hunting.

Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources)

The southern third of the marsh, 11,000 acres, is managed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources as Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area. It was established in 1927.

Three visitor centers and numerous trails and other outdoor facilities are available. Enjoy! 

Refuge Visitor Center Spring Hours - (April 1- May 31)

  • Sun – CLOSED
  • Mon – 9-4
  • Tues – 9-4
  • Wed – CLOSED
  • Thur – 9-4
  • Fri –   9-4
  • Sat –  9-4
  • The refuge visitor center is closed on the following federal holidays May 27 as well as days that significant weather events occur. 
  • The Horicon National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, located at W4279 Headquarters Rd, is one of three visitor centers located at Horicon Marsh including Marsh Haven Nature Center on Hwy 49 and the Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area Visitor Center on Hwy 28.

Refuge Public Use Areas

Auto Tour

  • The three-mile auto tour is currently open to vehicles weather conditions permitting. 

Old Marsh Road

  • The interior gravel road is currently closed to public access to limit disturbance to migrating birds (spring and fall). The road opens for hiking and bicycling from June 1 through August 31 (birds are nesting farther away from trails) as well as between December 1 and March 15 when the entire refuge is open for public access. Visitors are able to get a sneak peak at migrating birds during a special access weekend annually in celebration of Earth Day. Check the upcoming events for dates.

Main Dike Road

  • The eastern gravel portion of the road is currently open to vehicles weather conditions permitting. The entire road remains open across the marsh to the Wild Goose State Trail for hiking, bicycling, snow-shoeing and cross country skiing year-round. 

Peachy Road Fishing Access

  • Peachy fishing access is open year-round for fishing. 

Coot’s Corner Gift Shop Hours 

  • Located within the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center and operated by the non-profit volunteer group Friends of Horicon National Wildlife Refuge. The hours listed below are in effect through May 31. For more information contact fohnwr@yahoo.com .
  • Mon - 10-2
  • Tues - 10-2
  • Thur – 10-2
  •  Fri –   10-2
  •  Sat -   10-2

Upcoming Events

  • Old Marsh Road Open for Hiking and Bicycling for Earth Day Weekend - April 19-22
  • Horicon Marsh Bird Festival - May 10-13
  • Whooper Walks - March 14, April 11, May 9, June 13, July 11, August 8, September 12, October 10, November 14

2024 Spring Migration Surveys

Visit Us

National wildlife refuges offer us all a chance to unplug from the stresses of daily life and reconnect with our natural surroundings. Many opportunities exist to enjoy Horicon National Wildlife Refuge including opportunities for wildlife observation, photography, hiking, fishing, educational programs, guided tours, bicycling, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, deer and upland game hunting and trapping.

Location and Contact Information

      About Us

      The northern two-thirds of Horicon Marsh is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as the 22,000 acre Horicon National Wildlife Refuge. The southern third of the marsh, 11,000 acres, is managed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources as Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area. At more than 33,000 acres, Horicon Marsh is one of the largest freshwater marshes in the United States and is a critical rest stop for thousands of migrating ducks and Canada geese. It is recognized as a Wetland of International Importance, as both Globally and State Important Bird Areas and is also a unit of the Ice Age Scientific Reserve.

      Horicon National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1941 to provide an undisturbed sanctuary for a number of migratory birds and waterfowl including the redhead duck as well as to provide opportunities for people to connect with nature.

      What We Do

      Services
      Silhouette of a person walking with a shotgun on the tundra

      Some commercial, recreational and research activities are allowed on national wildlife refuges only with a special use permit issued by the local office, and are subject to specific conditions and fees. This permit requirement is meant to ensure that all activities at the federal site are...

      Kayakers navigating a swamp full of trees and lily pads.

      Some 30 national wildlife refuges  charge visitors a nominal entrance fee (generally $3-$5 daily)  to cover road and facility maintenance.  If you are a regular visitor or would like to visit other public lands, you could save by buying an America the Beautiful Federal...

      Children in yellow shirts run down a path or trail at Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge

      The Every Kid Outdoors program allows 4th-graders to see America’s natural wonders and historic sites for free.

      Annual 4th Grade Pass

      Cost: Free, non-transferable, valid for the duration of the 4th-grade schoolyear though the following summer (September-August).

      ...

      Our Species

      At more than 33,000 acres in size, Horicon Marsh is the largest freshwater marsh in the United States. Recognized as a Wetland of International Importance, as both Globally and State Important Bird Areas and a unit of the Ice Age Scientific Reserve, the marsh provides critical habitat for more than 300 species of birds as well as muskrats, red foxes, turtles, frogs, bats, dragonflies, fish and much more. Fall migration on the refuge offers impressive numbers of Canada geese, ducks and sandhill cranes while spring migration offers a variety of unique waterbirds and songbirds.