Facility Activities

The refuge offers a variety of recreational activities that appeal to a wide audience. Popular activities include hiking, wildlife watching, photography, driving the Prairie’s Edge Wildlife Drive and walking your dog on a leash. Paddle the designated canoe route to get a different perspective and get off the beaten path by hiking or biking the service roads when the refuge is out of wildlife sanctuary from September 1 through February 28.

Rules & Policies Page Public Use Brochure Hunting Brochure

Archery deer hunting is allowed in Areas A and B of the refuge during the state season. As long as it's legal in state regulations, archery is allowed for other species and seasons.

The Prairie's Edge Wildlife Drive offers a great way to see wildlife and habitats from the comfort of your car. By using your car as a viewing blind, you can often see more wildlife than you can see on foot. Depending on the time of year, you can spot fields of lupine or other wildflowers...

Biking is a good way to see wildlife, learn about habitats and photograph nature. Bicycles are permitted year-round on the Prairie's Edge Wildlife Drive and on county roads crossing the refuge. From September 1 to February 28 refuge service roads are also open to bicycling. Note that some...

Depending on the season, songbirds, raptors, and waterfowl abound throughout the refuge. An early morning hike or drive can provide the visitor with an enchanting symphony of sounds. Check out the Bird Checklist and Illustrated Bird Checklist!

In October, thousands of sandhill cranes...

Canoes, kayaks and rowboats are permitted only on the designated canoe route that starts at Battle Brook, south of Little Elk Lake, and continues on the St. Francis River, south of Battle Brook. Motorized watercraft are prohibited, including electric trolling motors.

Hiking trails are open to cross-country skiing. Depending on snow levels, Mahnomen Trail may be groomed. From September 1 to February 28, the entire refuge is open to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, excluding the closed area.

Dogs are allowed anywhere that visitors are. Dogs need to be leashed at all times* and owners must pick up and pack out pet waste. Dog training is not allowed at the refuge.

*A dog that's actively assisting a hunter can be off leash, given that they're under the immediate control of...

We offer a variety of different field trip options for self-led groups, such as school groups, summer camps, youth groups or scouts. Each self-led group has the freedom to develop their own programs to suit individual needs or use one developed by refuge staff. Refuge staff have designed a...

Permit required; typically issued for the fall and winter seasons, they allow individuals to collect dead and downed wood. This ultimately reduces the amount of fuel on the refuge, reducing the likelihood for wildfires.

From March 1 to August 31, fishing is allowed only from non-motorized boats on the St. Francis River canoe route and on the banks within 100 yards up or downstream of the designated fishing access points specified on our Public Use Regulations Brochure. From September 1 to February 28, fishing...

Whether you're looking for a short stroll or a longer hike, you’re likely to find what you want. Over ten miles of easy walking is available on the Blue Hill, Mahnomen and Oak Savanna Learning Center Trails year-round. Each trail is designed with loops that pass through oak woodlands and prairie...

Hunters can enjoy a number of opportunities on the refuge. Area B is open to waterfowl and other migratory birds during the state season. Areas A and B are open to upland game and deer archery during the state seasons. Areas A, B and C are open to deer firearms during the state season.

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Painting and sketching in nature is a great way to peacefully take in the landscape around you.

Whether you wield a smartphone or a zoom lens, you’ll find photo-worthy subjects. The refuge abounds with opportunities, especially along the Wildlife Drive. Wildflowers bloom from late spring through fall; cranes, swans and eagles are abundant; secretive mammals can be spotted occasionally...

Picnic tables are available at the Bur Oak Welcome Station located at the beginning of the Prairie's Edge Wildlife Drive. Additionally, Blue Hill, Mahnomen and the Oak Savanna Learning Center trails have benches and other seating throughout the trail system. Please leave no trace and pack out...

For a more guided experience, join us at one of our free interpretative programs or events! Celebrate World Migratory Bird Day in mid-May each year, when refuge tours, children's activities, information booths, and a perennial plant sale are held. An annual Wildlife Festival is held each fall in...

Mahnomen, Blue Hill and Oak Savanna Learning Center trails offer running and jogging opportunities year-round. September 1 to February 28, service roads throughout the refuge are open to running, excluding the closed area.

Hiking trails are open to snowshoeing. Depending on snow levels, Mahnomen Trail may be groomed for cross-country skiing; in that case, we ask snowshoers to stay to one side of the trail. From September 1 through February 28, snowshoeing is available on refuge service roads and off-trail...

Permit required; trapping occurs occasionally near water control structures for management purposes. See Rules & Policies page for details.

Mushroom, berry and nut collection is permitted within 100 ft. of designated trails or public rights of way, in compliance with all refuge regulations. Collection is for personal consumption only.

The refuge champions wildlife viewing as a key activity. Whether you're interested in insects, birds or wildflowers, the refuge provides a wide array of opportunities to spot wildlife in their element.

A variety of plants and animals call the refuge home. The spring brings about new...