Swans flying overhead at Lacreek NWR

Lacreek NWR offers excellent opportunities for wildlife observation and photography. Abundant habitat, water in an arid landscape, and light visitation provides an opportunity for a good sighting around every corner throughout the year. During the winter, large concentrations of trumpeter swans, Canada geese, and mallards can be found utilizing the open water provided by the spring flows and the natural foods grown in the wetlands during the growing season. Many visitors are surprised to find large numbers of waterfowl remain, when the rest of the northern Great Plains has completely frozen over.

Large numbers of migratory birds return in the spring on their migration north. Some stay to nest here, including blue winged teal, mallards, American white pelicans, great blue herons, snowy egrets, long-billed curlews, burrowing owls, short-eared owls, northern harriers and bobolinks to name a few.

During the heat of the summer, most wildlife restricts their activities to the cooler morning and evening hours. Listen for dickcissels, grasshopper sparrows, and lark sparrows calling in the grasslands. You might find an American bittern, great blue heron, or black crowned night heron slowly hunting the shallows looking for a wetland meal. As summer fades into fall, shorebirds, raptors, waterfowl, and other species of birds begin their migration south. Many stop in at the Refuge to spend a day or a month. Some will spend the winter here. 

The entire Refuge is open to wildlife observation and photography. A few developed roads and trails exist, and you can often spot wildlife by driving the auto tour route slowly or taking a quiet walk on one of the designated trails. For visitors interested in exploring the rest of the Refuge, a number of Refuge dikes used to control water levels provide great opportunities for hiking. Vehicles are restricted to the designated roads. For more information about wildlife observation opportunities at Lacreek NWR, please contact the Refuge

Come visit our prairie grouse lekWhat is a lek, you may ask? 
A lek is an area where prairie grouse congregate from March through April to perform their mating dances. The males choose a sparsely vegetated area where females can easily see their courtship display. With the sun rising mainly at your back and a large wetland as a backdrop, photo opportunities abound.

Please call 308-760-6268 or 605-891-1071 or Email: lacreek@fws.gov to reserve a spot: 

It is very important to be settled in the viewing blind at the lek prior to prairie grouse arriving! Grouse may abandon a lek if there is too much disturbance, and we'll all be sad if that happens. Please be inside of the blind 1 1/2 hours prior to sunrise. Please click here for first/last light and sunrise/sunset times. Open windows (there are handles on the inside), and move chairs as gently and quietly as possible. If you'd like to try and catch them courting in the early evening, please arrive to the blind at least two hours prior to sunset. If you're the last to leave the blind in the morning or evening, we ask that you please close and latch the windows to keep snow, rain and birds out. 


It is highly recommended that you visit the area in the daylight and Headquarters for directions and a map prior to lek viewing. 

There are two lek viewing options; one with a viewing blind and one without. 

Coordinates to Snakepatch Lek and Blind location: 43.0995417, -101.6275544

Please click here for directions and the approximate location of the parking area. 

The parking area for viewing the lek blind is on 297th Street to the west of the Visitor's Center and the east of County Highway 73. The parking area sign is attached to the designated hunter sign.  A mowed pathway marks a pathway to the lek blind.

The 0.23-mile "path" to the lek is not groomed. You will walk through cut prairie grass over uneven ground, so please keep this in mind. A flashlight or headlamp is a must!

There is a reflector attached to the tongue of the trailer and potential holes, so please be careful and watch your step. Enter through a door in the back. Reflective tape will soon be on the edges of the trailer and the door to the lek blind. 

Coordinates to Sandhill Lek location: 43.069220069605386, -101.59460888072948

Please click here for directions and the approximate location of the parking area. 

This lek requires you to bring your own blind to view the lek.

The parking area for the viewing lek is on Cedar Creek Road, off 297th Street to the west of the Visitor's Center and to the east of County Highway 73. From 297th St., turn south onto 225th St; 225th St. turns into Cedar Creek Rd. The parking area sign is attached to a fence that runs parallel to Cedar Creek Rd and may be difficult to see in the dark. There is a gate used to access private property just beyond (to the east of) the brown parking sign. There is a "No Parking" sign near this gate. Please do not block this gate or park near the entrance. Simply pull off to the side of the road and park to the west of the gate. Red reflectors mark an opening in the gate for viewing blind access.

The half-mile "path" to the lek is not groomed. You will walk through low to mid-length prairie grass over uneven ground, so please keep this in mind. A flashlight or headlamp is a must! Pass between two reflectors through the open gate and immediately turn left to follow the fence. In a short distance, you will see another reflector marking the corner of the fence line. Turn right and follow the fence until you reach another fence corner. Make a slight right to follow the fence line, and in approximately 15 feet, there is an opening in the fence. Go through the open fence line, angling more to the left. There is one reflector on the fence line and three reflectors to guide you to the short distance to view the lek. 

Please contact us for additional information on directions and viewing times. 

 Office: (605) 685-6508; Email lacreek@fws.gov.