Visit Us

National wildlife refuges offer us all a chance to unplug and relax. Locals can enjoy regular trips to the refuge and enjoy the change of seasons. The refuge is a relatively short drive from the Twin Cities and Duluth and is on a main route of travel for those headed to lake country. Everyone is welcome to enjoy the wide variety of activities available at the refuge. Roll down your windows on the wildlife drive and look and listen for wildlife. Observe and photograph wildlife. Go fishing and hunting. Stop in at refuge headquarters during the week to ask questions visit the Friends of Rice Lake Nature Store for books and other educational items.

Driving Directions

The refuge is located five miles south of McGregor, on State Highway 65. The refuge is a one-hour drive from Duluth, Brainerd and Grand Rapids, and a two-hour drive north of the Twin Cities Metro area.


There is no charge to visit.


  • Flush toilets are available inside refuge headquarters
  • Pit toilets are available at the Rice Lake Overlook
  • From April through October, there is a portable restroom at South Trail, Mandy Lake and Twin Lakes

Points of Interest

Email refuge staff at to help you plan your visit!

What To Do

If you have 15 minutes

  • Stop at refuge headquarters and observe the purple martin colony and popular pollinator garden. On weekdays, refuge staff are on hand to field your questions. Stop in and see us, we’ll glad to assist!

If you have one hour

  • Hike a trail loop from Mandy Lake
  • Picnic at Twin Lakes
  • Fish at South Trail

If you have half a day or more

  • Paddle or boat Mandy Lake, Twin Lakes or Rice River - electric motors only
  • Bike or drive the wildlife drive and stop at the Rice Lake Observation Tower
  • Go hunting or fishing

Know Before You Go

The refuge can be a buggy place. In early summer, it is especially important to wear long sleeves and bug spray.

Remember to bring:

  • Sunglasses
  • Bug spray or head net or long sleeves and pants - especially June through August
  • Water bottle
  • Sunscreen
  • Comfortable shoes for walking or hiking
  • In spring or fall, be prepared for a wide swing in temperatures
  • Dress warmly in winter

Visitor Tips

  • Morning and evening are the best times to visit to see wildlife
  • Maps are available at all refuge kiosks, including trailheads and at refuge headquarters
  • Remember to check for ticks when you leave
  • May is the best time to see spring migratory birds
  • June through August are the best times to see wildlife with young
  • September and October are the best months for fall migratory birds
  • Mid-October is usually the best time to view the largest number of staging ring-necked ducks on Rice Lake


The refuge offers a variety of recreational activities that appeal to a wide audience. Popular activities include hiking, wildlife watching, photography, driving the wildlife drive and walking your dog on a leash. Paddle Mandy Lake or the Rice River to get a different perspective and get off the beaten path by hiking or biking North Bog or South Trail roads.

Rules & Policies Page Hunting Brochure


Mandy Lake

Open season: Year round

Length: 1.5 miles

Location of trail: Trailhead begins at Mandy Lake

Surface: Natural

Difficulty: Easy

Information: This trail follows the Mandy Lake shoreline and loops through north woods habitat. In late April and May look closely for spring flowers that bloom for a short period of time. This trail is groomed for classic cross-country skiing in winter months.

CCC Camp

Open season: Year round

Length: 1 mile

Location of trail: Trail begins at the CCC Camp pull-off on the south side of the entrance road

Surface: Mowed

Difficulty: Easy

Information: Walk back in history on this trail. There was an active CCC Camp onsite from 1939 to 1941 that helped with the initial development of the refuge. The camp included 23 buildings in total and the foundation of one building is visible on this trail. This trail is groomed for classic cross-country skiing in winter months.

North Bog

Open season: Year round

Length: 1.25 miles

Location of trail: This trail is accessed from the CCC Camp Trail or the Twin Lakes ADA Trail

Surface: Mowed

Difficulty: Easy

Information: This trail is groomed for classic cross-country skiing in winter months.

Twin Lakes

Open season: Year round

Length: 0.75 miles

Location of trail: Trail begins on the eastern edge of the Twin Lakes ADA trail

Surface: Natural

Difficulty: Easy

Information: Take this trail to follow the shoreline of Twin Lakes. During the fall season, the colors are beautiful in this stretch!

Twin Lakes ADA

Open season: Year round

Length: 0.25 miles

Location of trail: Trail begins at Twin Lakes

Surface: Paved, Accessible

Difficulty: Easy

Information: This flat trail loops through the woods and has signage detailing the variety of birds to keep an eye out for!


Other Facilities in the Complex

Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge is a part of the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The complex includes four national wildlife refuges located throughout east central Minnesota, including Sherburne, Crane Meadows, Rice Lake and Mille Lacs national wildlife refuges. These refuges are under shared management, with complex headquarters located in Zimmerman, Minnesota.

Rules and Policies

Welcome to your 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
! Discover new places to hunt, fish, take pictures, watch wildlife, walk, cross-country ski, snowshoe and canoe. Enjoy spending time outdoors alone or with friends and family. Please consult the refuge manager at 218-768-2402 if you have questions. We may post additional site-specific regulations.

To ensure your safety and protect wildlife and habitat, please be aware of these regulations.


Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge
36289 State Highway 65Mcgregor,MN55760-5875
Refuge Headquarters Hours
Monday through Friday
8 am - 4 pm
Federal holidays
Due to a staff shortage, visitors may occasionally find the office closed for brief periods of time.
Refuge Lands and Hiking Trails Hours
Sunrise - Sunset, including federal holidays
Wildlife Drive Hours
Spring - Fall: Vehicle Access
Sunrise - Sunset, including federal holidays
Year-round: Hiking, Biking and Winter Activities
Sunrise - Sunset, including federal holidays