Auto tour route drive with curving road among trees

Whether you are looking for a relaxing drive with friends and family, or searching for a specific species on your list, this experience will give you a taste of the Refuge from the convenience of your vehicle. This four-mile loop goes through a variety of habitats and offers a chance to see wildlife up close, as you use your vehicle as a viewing blind. 

Fall and winter – October 1st through April 30th 

During the fall and winter seasons the auto tour is accessible by vehicle only. Opportunities to get out of your car are at the entrance kiosk, restrooms and viewing blind. 

Your local refuges are very important resting and refueling places for migrating birds such as ducks, geese, swans and even the threatened sandhill crane. These animals and others do not often recognize a slow-moving vehicle as a threat. Most of the time they will allow vehicles to pass, or even stop, without taking flight. Seeing a human form however alerts them to a predator nearby and forces them and others to take flight, using much needed energy. When you use your car as a personal observation blind, the result is a high-quality wildlife viewing experience for all.  

Spring and summer - May 1 through September 30th 

In the spring and summer the auto tour opens to pedestrian use. Those using the road without a vehicle are reminded to be cautious of traffic as there is no side trail off the road.   

Tips for a good experience:

  • Take it slow. The posted speed limit is 15mph for the safety of wildlife and other visitors. It is amazing how close you can get to a browsing deer or a perched hawk when you drive slowly.  

  • Use pull-offs when you want to stop. This allows other visitors and staff to move past you safely. 

  • Be patient and come again. You never know when you might see something exciting that you have not seen before. A fun part of the experience is learning where to look and how to find hidden wildlife. This is a skill that takes time, so keep coming back to practice!