Visitor Activities

Wildflowers in Bloom

With eight units located throughout western Minnesota and Iowa, Northern Tallgrass Prairire National Wildlife Refuge offers a number of opportunities to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature.


  • Hunting

    Father and Son on a Hunt

    The Northern Tallgrass Prairie National Wildlife Refuge offers quality hunting experiences for many prairie species. Generally, all refuge units are open to hunting in accordance with state and Federal regulations. However, regulations may differ from unit to unit, and State regulations differ between Minnesota and Iowa. Please check with the manager of each unit for current information about hunting regulations in that area.

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  • Fishing

    Young fellow fishing

    Created to protect remaining tallgrass prairie parcels, Northern Tallgrass National Wildlife Refuge is an expanding refuge. The refuge consists of scattered tracts in western Minnesota and northwestern Iowa across 85 counties. Sport fishing will only be open on fee title acres and opportunities for fishing are few and far between as most of the areas are tallgrass prairie, not wetlands or ponds. Important sport fish species known to inhabit waters in western Minnesota and northwest Iowa include walleye, northern pike, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, sunfish, crappie, channel catfish, flathead catfish, bullheads and yellow perch. Contact the refuge at 320-273-2191 for more information on where there may be fishing opportunities.

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  • Wildlife Viewing

    Wildlife Viewing on a Wetland

    Each Northern Tallgrass Prairie National Wildlife Refuge unit provides visitors with an excellent opportunity to experience the sights and sounds of grassland birds, migrating waterfowl, colorful songbirds, marsh and wading birds, hawks, white-tailed deer and a wide variety of other prairie wildlife. Look closely and you’ll also see the smaller creatures vital to the prairie ecosystem, including insects, mice, salamanders, snakes, and frogs.

  • Interpretation

    Wetland Exploration

    All Northern Tallgrass Prairie National Wildlife Refuge units offer self-guided experiences. The Touch the Sky and Gislason Lake units also provide information kiosks with interpretive panels. The ‘Touch the Sky’ unit in Rock County, Minnesota has several kiosks with information to enhance your visit.

  • Environmental Education

    Having Fun in Nature

    Although most of the refuge’s units do not offer specific environmental education activities on-site, the Touch the Sky unit can provide tours and presentations for groups. Please contact the Northern Tallgrass Prairie National Wildlife Refuge office at 320-273-2191 or for more information or to schedule your group’s visit.

  • Photography

    Upland Sandpiper

    Perhaps the fastest growing activity on national wildlife refuges in the past ten years has been wildlife photography. That’s not surprising – the digital camera population explosion and cell phones with ever-improving picture-taking abilities are increasing the number of nature photographers at a rapid rate. You don’t need to purchase expensive equipment or have any experience to get started. A small camera or basic cell phone will do just fine for most visitors.

    The Northern Tallgrass Prairie National Wildlife Refuge provides visitors with wonderful opportunities to experience and photograph the prairie landscape, wildlife, and wildflowers. During the summer, photographers can see bobolinks, grasshopper sparrows, white-tailed deer, red fox, and ground squirrels among the native grasses and wildflowers.