Facility Activities

As diverse as the birds and wildlife, Kirwin NWR offers many opportunities for recreation.  Whether it’s driving, hiking, bicycling, fishing, or hunting you will have the chance to experience the prairie habitats and its wildlife at the Refuge.  Get acquainted with the wildlife and their habitats through the interpretive exhibits at the visitor center located in the Refuge headquarters building.

If you have 15-minutes.

  • Stop by the visitor center or informational kiosk and pick up a current refuge brochure.

If you have one hour.

  • Drive the auto-tour route and enjoy the pristine wildlife and habitats the refuge has to offer.

If you have half a day or more.

  • Utilize the refuge to your full advantage by participating in some of the most popular activities that we are known for: hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, wildlife photography, environmental education, and interpretation. Focus on the two National Historic Trails and walking through the prairie.

A one-half mile hard-surfaced wildflower trail is located at Crappie Point on the south side of the Refuge.  It loops through the grassland, and during the month of June, it is alive with a wonderful array of blooming wildflowers.

At Prairie Dog Town, you may enjoy a one-quarter mile...

Each spring and fall, Kirwin National Wildlife Refuge attracts hundreds of thousands of migrating waterfowl to the heart of the Central Flyway, making the refuge a great duck and goose hunting destination. Recent years have seen an increase in the numbers of mallard ducks and snow geese,...

Refuge waters include a 5,000-acre lake. Available species include "wipers" (hybrid white/striped bass), white bass, walleye, largemouth bass, crappie and flathead and channel catfish.

Many refuges champion wildlife viewing as a key recreational activity.
Archery demonstrations and lessons may be a part of local site programming. Some refuges and hatcheries permit bow-hunting with other hunting. This activity is typically limited. Check locally for how to apply.
Auto tour routes offer a great all-season way to see wildlife and habitats from the comfort of your car. By using your car as a viewing blind, you can often see more wildlife than you can see on foot.
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.
Boats provide the best way to see many refuges. Some refuges limit the use of motorboats to certain areas, subject to restrictions on engine size.
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.
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.
While traditional geocaching (the burial or removal of "treasure") is generally not permitted at national wildlife refuges because it disturbs wildlife habitat, virtual geocaching may be allowed. In this variant, GPS coordinates lead to points of interest, such as cultural sites or exhibits, that participants can check off on a list.
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.
Painting and sketching in nature is possible at nearly all sites open to the public. Sometimes, sites host public displays of artworks created on the refuge.
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.
A few sites allow picnicking at designated areas.
Rangers lead wildlife walks, tours and educational programs at many sites. Events may focus on wildflowers or birds or on seasonal spectacles, such as elk bugling or sea turtle nesting. Some programs may be limited in size or require advance registration. See individual websites for details.
Many multi-purpose trails are open to runners and joggers as well as walkers and, in some cases, bicyclists. Some sites host annual fun runs. Check individual refuge websites for details.
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.