Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge offers a variety of activities for visitors, including fishing, hunting, wildlife watching, photography, ranger-led programs, environmental education, hiking and boating. There may be specific rules or permits required for some activities, so it’s best to plan ahead. Most activities are available year round.
Migratory bird hunting, upland game hunting and big game hunting were expanded in 2015.Swan Lake NWR was created to protect habitat for ducks and prairie chickens. Geese were rare visitors until 1941 when 800 Canada geese wintered at the refuge. Over the years, the refuge gradually attracted...
From bald eagles to spoonbills, from condors to puffins, birds abound on national wildlife refuges. Refuges provide places for birds to nest, rest, feed and breed making them world-renown for their birding opportunities.
Many Fish and Wildlife Service sites make great destinations for flatwater canoeing or kayaking. Some sites have concessions that rent canoes or kayaks. Some sites offer scheduled paddle tours. See individual refuge websites for details.
Seasonal firewood gathering is available at a few sites, by permit. Tree cutting is generally limited to dead and downed trees or non-native trees. Some refuges have stopped allowing firewood cutting to stem the spread of the emerald ash borer, an invasive pest. Check individual sites for more information.
Take your pick of 2,100 miles of refreshing trails and boardwalks. Whether you want a short, easy walk or a challenging hike, you’re likely to find what you want. Some trails are paved and universally accessible. Some trails include displays on visual arts, local history and culture or environmental education.
Whether you wield a smartphone or a zoom lens, you’ll find photo-worthy subjects at national wildlife refuges and national fish hatcheries. Wildlife photography is a priority public use on national wildlife refuges, so you’ll find wildlife drives and blinds and overlooks to help you get the images you’re after.
Rangers lead wildlife walks, tours and educational programs at many sites. Events may focus on wildflowers or birds or on seasonal spectacles, such as elk bugling or sea turtle nesting. Some programs may be limited in size or require advance registration. See individual websites for details.
Trapping is carefully managed to ensure safety and the sustainability of wildlife populations. Permitted trapping on refuges typically mirrors state regulations, and trappers who access refuge lands for recreation must possess state licenses and follow state regulations as well as permit stipulations.
Many refuges champion wildlife viewing as a key recreational activity.
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