At Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge, there are a myriad of activities to participate in, such as hunting, fishing, wildlife and plant viewing, interpretation, environmental education, and photography. Dependent on the season, birding and wildlife watching opportunities will vary.
One of the most welcoming sights of spring is the lavender-blue pasque flower blooming on the hillsides, sometimes even in the snow. Spring also brings the sound of the sandhill cranes as they stop to rest on their way north. Even an occasional endangered whooping crane will stop by for a visit. April and May will find the sharp-tailed grouse doing their mating dance in their leks. And in late spring, the western grebes begin their mating ritual by water weaving in synchronized pairs across the water.
Summer is the time for prairies to come alive with wild flowers. The lemon-yellow narrow leafed puccoon, the mustard colored western wallflower, the dark red to orange scarlet mallow, the tall stately purple prairie coneflower, and the North Dakota state flower - the wild prairie rose are just a few of the blooms you might see on the Long Lake Refuge and the Wetland Management District.
Early June will offer the first opportunity to observe newborn white-tailed fawns. In July, Canada geese will be grouping on large lakes in preparation for their flightless period during their molt. By late summer you'll see migrating shorebirds on the wetlands with exposed mudflats. The roadsides will be white with astors and some dried up wetlands will look bright red with the red samphire in full bloom, the prairie birds will be migrating through from the northern breeding area.
Autumn is a spectacular season as days turn cooler and the skies are filled with sandhill cranes, shorebirds, ducks, geese, swans, and pelicans. Occasionally endangered whooping cranes stop in the area to feed and rest before heading south. Late fall will usually find Mother Nature telling the birds to move on. Although most small birds go south as the days start getting shorter, some birds like geese and some ducks need some cold snowy weather to let them know its time to go. Prairie grasses and the trees turn from green to shades of gold as winter snows are soon to come.
Winter does not mean the Refuge is barren of life and covered with snow. A few hardy birds, such as ring-necked pheasant, sharp-tailed grouse, gray partridge, wild turkey, great horned owl, snowy owl, horned lark, snow bunting, large numbers of white-tailed deer, coyote, and cottontail rabbit are just some of the wildlife that spend the winter here. Sometimes the deep white snow will tempt snowmobiles to come onto the Refuge, but the Refuge is off limits to snowmobiles and any off-road vehicles to better enable wildlife to survive the rigors of winter. Winter can be tough on wildlife and only the strongest survive. Yet winter can be beautiful too, as we listen to the howl of the coyote or the hooting of the great horned owl in the stillness of a long winter night or see the diamond crystals sparkling on freshly laid snow. To see the sundogs around the sun on a crisp, clear day and to know that spring will be arriving soon with the promise of new life.
When planning a trip to the refuge, it is important to wear appropriate clothing and footwear for hiking and birding excursions and to dress for the weather. Wood ticks are often present in grassland areas from spring to mid-summer. Consider bringing water, food, binoculars, field guides, a hat, sunscreen, insect repellent and anything else that might make your outdoor experience more enjoyable. It is also a good idea to inform friends or family if you will be exploring alone. Maps, brochures and general information are available at the refuge headquarters.
The Butte overlook and Paul Van Ningen Memorial are located on the refuge one mile north and 1 mile east of Moffit or one mile north and 2 miles west of the refuge headquarters along 102nd Ave.SE. This overlook sits above Lake Unit 1 providing a splendid panoramic view over the west end of the refuge.
A historic residence, office and maintenance buildings constructed in the 1930’s using native field stone are located one-mile south of the refuge headquarters along the south side of Unit 2.
A one mile two track walking trail is located east of the historic stone residence between Lake Unit 2 and the Unit 2 Marsh providing seasonal opportunities to observe many species of shorebirds and waterfowl depending on water levels within the marsh.
Hunting and fishing are permitted on the refuge, please see new brochure.
Other Facilities in the Complex
Rules and Policies
The following regulations are necessary for the protection of wildlife and wildlife habitat, and for the safety of visitors. Observance of these rules will help make the refuge a better place for visitors and the wildlife they come to enjoy. The Refuge Manager reserves the right to close all or part of the refuge to hunting and/or public access at any time. Specific regulations will be posted. The refuge is also subject to Federal, State, and local laws and regulations.
Portions of the Refuge are open to deer hunting; a late-season hunt for grouse, partridge, and pheasant; and fishing in accordance with State and Refuge-specific regulations. Hunting waterfowl or any other species is prohibited.
Headquarters on the Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge is located about 3 miles southeast of Moffit, North Dakota. From I-94 at Sterling, North Dakota, take exit 182 and turn south on U.S. Highway 83. (Three options follow . . .)
1. Turn East onto 128th Ave SE, follow until 353rd St SE (look for HQ sign)
2. Turn East onto 102nd Ave, passing Butte Viewing Area, turn South onto 353rd St SE (look for HQ sign)
3. Turn East on 89th Ave, follow two large curves, turn South onto 353rd St SE (look for HQ sign)