Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge is located in Aitkin County in east central Minnesota, about five miles south of the community of McGregor. It was established in 1935 to preserve valuable habitat for waterfowl. The most important resource on the refuge is Rice Lake itself, a shallow, 3,600-acre wild rice-producing lake. The refuge has been designated as a Globally Important Bird Area by the American Bird Conservancy due to the importance of the lake and its wild rice as a food source to migrating waterfowl, especially ring-necked ducks.

Visit Us

The refuge offers people a chance to unplug and relax. Locals can enjoy regular trips to the refuge and enjoy the change of seasons. Those coming from farther away experience a taste of the north woods of Minnesota. Everyone is welcome to enjoy the wide variety of activities available at the refuge.

Location and Contact Information

      About Us

      Every national wildlife refuge national wildlife refuge
      A national wildlife refuge is typically a contiguous area of land and water managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  for the conservation and, where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

      Learn more about national wildlife refuge
      was created for a special purpose. Some were created to protect migratory birds, others to protect threatened or endangered species or unique habitats, while others fulfill another special purpose. All activities allowed on refuges must be evaluated to make sure each activity will not conflict with the reason the refuge was founded.

      Rice Lake’s purposes include:

      • Being “as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and wildlife.”
      • Being “an inviolate sanctuary, or for any other management purpose, for migratory birds.”
      • “Incidental fish and wildlife-oriented recreational development, the protection of natural resources, the conservation of endangered species or threatened species.”
      • “Carrying out the national migratory bird management program.”
      • “For the development, advancement, management, conservation and protection of fish and wildlife resources…” and “…for the benefit of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in performing its activities and services. Such acceptance may be subject to the terms of any restrictive or affirmative covenant, or condition of servitude.”

      Our Species

      The refuge is composed of a variety of wetlands, fens and forest. The northern hardwood forest along the wildlife drive that hosts a variety of breeding birds is dominated by quaking and big-toothed aspens, red and sugar maples, paper birch, basswood and red oak. Refuge wetlands are home to nesting trumpeter swans, migrating ring-necked ducks and busy beavers. Other species to keep an eye out for include bears, porcupines, owls, hawks and foxes.