Little River National Wildlife Refuge

Visit Us

National wildlife refuges offer us all a chance to unplug from the stresses of daily life and reconnect with our natural surroundings. Exploring Little River National Wildlife Refuge takes and adventurer’s spirit. Visitors can experience one of the largest intact tracks of bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the state and discover a remarkable ecosystem. Imagine a forest capable of purifying a river and buffering the intensity of floodwaters rolling downstream. The bottomland hardwood forest protected by the refuge handily performs such a natural feat. Watching flocks of mallards and wood ducks gliding along the sloughs and oxbow lakes past the flared trunks of cypress trees, listening to the chorus of frogs, and watching for an alligator floating in the still waters, are just a few of the experiences to be discovered on the refuge. The refuge provides a place for all visitors seeking to reconnect with nature. 

Driving Directions

The headquarters for the Little River National Wildlife Refuge is located at 635 South Park Drive on HWY 259 in the City of Broken Bow, Oklahoma. The coordinates for the headquarters office are 34.020701,-94.737666.  

Fees

There is no charge to visit.

Restrooms

Restrooms are available inside the refuge headquarters building. 

Points of Interest

Meet the champion trees on the refuge. A champion tree is the largest of a particular species. It has a certain mystique that stimulates interest, respect and a certain amount of awe. They are not only special, they are worth protecting and recognizing for future generations.  Oklahoma’s champion tree program recognizes the largest tree of each species and provides a registry in “The Great Trees of Oklahoma.” To view the registry of state champion trees in Oklahoma, visit the Oklahoma State Champion Trees website. 
 
The magnificent forest protected within the Little River National Wildlife Refuge is home to 11 state-champion trees. The fertile soils of the bottomland floodplain provide excellent growing conditions for many species of trees. The Oklahoma Forestry Association, in cooperation with the Oklahoma Forestry Services, searches out and records the largest trees of each species in the state. Champion trees found on the refuge include: baldcyress, Hercules-club, shagbark hickory, water hickory, sugar maple, cherrybark oak, overcup oak, pawpaw, sugarberry, sweatleaf, and water-elm. 
 

The Duck Roost Slough observation deck is a popular location to view and photograph wildlife. The Little River National Wildlife Refuge has identified 191 bird species that spend all or part of the year on the refuge. The refuge is one of only a few known nesting locations in Oklahoma for the rare Swainson’s warbler, a secretive songbird that winters in the Caribbean. Flycatchers, swallows, vireos, and at least 31 species of warblers are all neotropical migrants that can be observed on the refuge. Each winter, the refuge also hosts a few bald eagles that can be seen roosting in tall trees and preying on waterfowl and fish. You may see a resident wild turkey pecking for acorns among the leaves, or glimpse a Mississippi kite soaring fast above you. 
 
As you make your way through the refuge, pay close attention and you may see an American alligator floating in the still waters of the wetland swamps. The refuge is located within the northwest expansion of this prehistoric reptile's range. 

What to Do

The refuge is open to hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, photography, and hiking. The refuge is open to hunting white-tailed deer, squirrel, rabbit, raccoon, turkey, waterfowl, beaver, feral hog, and coyote in accordance with refuge seasons. The refuge offers anglers fishing opportunities on two small lakes (Yanubbee Lake and Forked Lake), and over 17-miles of Little River frontage.  

Wildlife observation is a popular activity from the Duck Roost Slough observation deck, or from along the 1.74 miles of primitive walking trails found throughout the refuge. 

Know Before You Go

McCurtain County is characterized as having a warm moist subtropical climate. The average annual precipitation ranges from about 48 inches in southwestern McCurtain County to 54 inches in the northeast. April and November are the wettest months, on average, but much of the spring through fall receives sufficient rainfall. Temperatures range from an average daytime high of 94 degrees in August to an average low of 29 degrees in January. Visitors should plan and dress appropriately for the seasons when visiting the refuge. Visitors are encouraged to bring plenty of water, snacks, insect repellent and other personal supplies to ensure an enjoyable visit.  

Flooding is a common occurrence in bottomland hardwood forests and can last for varying periods of time, ranging from several days to weeks. The timing, frequency, coverage, and depth of floods has an impact on visitor access on the refuge. Visitors should never drive on refuge roads that are inundated or flooded. 

Visitor Tips

The following tips may enhance wildlife observation and viewing on the refuge: 

  • This is a warm climate, so wildlife is less active on hot summer afternoons or on windy days. 

  • Dawn and dusk are the best viewing times to see wildlife. 

  • Be patient - don't expect to see everything in the first few minutes. 

  • Cars make good observation blinds. Drive slowly, stopping to scan places wildlife might hide. The use of binoculars or a spotting scope will provide a closer look. Dawn and dusk are the best viewing times to see wildlife. 

  • Try sitting quietly in one good location. Let wildlife get use to your presence. Many animals that have hidden will reappear once they think you are gone.  

  • Walk quietly on refuge trails or throughout the forest, being aware of sounds and smells. Often you will hear more than you will see. 

  • Look for animal signs. Tracks, scat, feathers, and nest left behind often tell interesting stories. 

  • Observe from the sidelines. Leave “abandoned” young animals alone. A parent is probably close by waiting for you to leave.  

  • Bring field guides to help you identify what you see. 

  • Be prepared for insect pests and poison ivy.  

Activities

The Little River National Wildlife Refuge provides a variety of wildlife-dependent recreational activities to allow visitors to reconnect and experience nature.  

Trails

Buzzard Roost Trail 

Open Season: Open year round 

Length: 0.93 miles 

Location of trail: The trail is located in Unit 4 of the refuge. 

Surface: Gravel 

Difficulty: Easy, Firm and stable 

The trail winds through the bottomland hardwood forest. 

GTR Trail 

Open Season: Open year round 

Length: 0.38 miles 

Location of trail: The trail is located in Unit 4 of the refuge. 

Surface: Gravel 

Difficulty: Easy, Firm and stable 

The trail winds through the bottomland forest and provides access to the green-tree reservoir that is flooded for waterfowl. 

Horseshoe Trail 

Open Season: Open year round 

Length: 0.17 miles 

Location of trail: The trail is located in Unit 3 of the refuge. 

Surface: Gravel 

Difficulty: Easy, Firm and stable  

The trail winds through the bottomland forest and provides access to Horseshoe Lake. 

Lizard Slough Trail 

Open Season: Open year round 

Length: 0.26 miles 

Location of trail: The trail is located in Unit 2 of the refuge. 

Surface: Gravel 

Difficulty: Easy, Firm and stable 

The trail winds through the bottomland forest and provides access to Lizard Slough. 

Rules and Policies

Rules and regulations are in place to protect wildlife species and their habitats, and ensures safe and compatible opportunities for the visiting public. Little River National Wildlife Refuge is here for the benefit of wildlife so please comply with all rules and regulations that apply at the refuge. 

  • Camping and fires are prohibited. 

  • Off-highway vehicles (ATV’s/ORUV’s/UTV’s) and street-legal utility vehicles are prohibited. 

  • Marking any tree, trail or other refuge feature with paint, flagging tape, ribbon, trail tacks or similar substance is not allowed. 

  • Artificial light (spotlighting) may not be used to find wildlife. 

  • Littering, dumping garbage or waste is prohibited. 

  • Baiting or hunting over bait, salt, or any attractant is prohibited 

  • All hunters using shotguns for hunting on the refuge must use and possess ammunition containing approved non-toxic shot only. 

  • Taking of wildlife or plants (including cutting trees or brush) is prohibited. 

  • Use or possession of alcoholic beverages while hunting is prohibited. 

  • Persons possessing, transporting, or carrying firearms on National Wildlife Refuges must comply with all provisions of state and local laws. Persons may only use (discharge) firearms in accordance with refuge regulations.  

  • Searching for or removing any object of antiquity including arrowheads, pottery, or other artifacts is prohibited. 

  • Blocking gates, boat ramps, or roadways with vehicles is prohibited. 

  • Boats used for any recreational activity must be removed from the refuge daily. 

  • Hunters should be familiar with the refuge's hunting regulations. 

Locations

Little River National Wildlife Refuge
635 South Park Drive Broken Bow, OK 74728
Driving Directions

The headquarters for the Little River National Wildlife Refuge is located at 635 South Park Drive on HWY 259 in the City of Broken Bow, Oklahoma. The coordinates for the headquarters office are 34.020701,-94.737666.  

Hours
Refuge Headquarters Office Hours
Mon - Fri
7:30 am - 4 pm
Refuge Trails and Observation Deck Hours
Daily
Sunrise - Sunset