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Upper Souris
National Wildlife Refuge

Standing among the among the golden-brown prairie grasses, two sharp-tailed grouse display their purplish neck sacks to each other during the spring mating season .
17705 212th Ave. NW
Berthold, ND   58718
E-mail: uppersouris@fws.gov
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During early spring, male sharp-tailed grouse display to each other. The females watch and then select their mate.
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Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge

Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), located 30 miles northwest of Minot, North Dakota, was established in 1935 as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife. The Refuge straddles 35 miles of the picturesque Souris River valley in northern North Dakota. The Souris River basin figures prominently in the cultural and natural history of the North American mid-continent plains and prairies.

The 32,092-acre Refuge includes a narrow band of river bottom woodlands, fertile floodplains, native mixed-grass hills, and steep, shrub-covered coulees. The focal point of the Refuge is the 9,600-acre Lake Darling, which was constructed in 1936 to provide water to downstream marshes on J. Clark Salyer and Upper Souris NWRs.

The American Bird Conservancy has designated the Refuge as a Globally Important Bird Area. Lake Darling is also designated as critical habitat for the endangered piping plover.

Bird watchers come from across the nation to search for small grassland nesting bird species including Baird's, LeConte's, and Nelson's sharp-tailed sparrows, as well as the Sprague's pipit.

Getting There . . .
The Refuge office and visitor center is located southeast of Lake Darling Dam. Drive northwest of Minot on State Highway 52 to 1 mile north of Foxholm. Turn right and follow County Road 11 north 7 miles. Follow Refuge directional signs to the Refuge. An alternate route is to drive 12 miles north of Minot on State Highway 83, turn west and drive 12 miles on County Road 6.

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These driving directions are provided as a general guide only. No representation is made or warranty given as to their content, road conditions or route usability or expeditiousness. User assumes all risk of use.

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Wildlife and Habitat

Refuge habitats include native mixed-grass prairie; planted tame grasses and legumes; coulee and bottomland woodlands; potholes; and a constructed lake and marshes.

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In the 1930s, drought brought the dust bowl to the Great Plains. The drought dried out the land, and the wind covered everything with dust.

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Management Activities
A diverse mix of management practices provides habitat for wildlife. Grazing, burning, mowing, and resting are used on the grasslands to improve diversity of plants and wildlife. Marsh and river water levels are managed to provide nesting, feeding, and cover for wetland birds. Prescribed burns are conducted on wetlands to improve the ratio of open water to vegetation. Biological data is collected and analyzed to improve habitat management.

Water is stored and released to fill marshes on J. Clark Salyer and Upper Souris NWRs. Spring and summer runoff is managed to assist in providing 100-year flood protection for the City of Minot and to provide water to senior water right holders.

Refuge staff controls invasive plants using biological, mechanical, and chemical strategies. Botulism-infected water birds and other diseased and infected wildlife are monitored and collected to prevent further wildlife losses. To aid breeding waterfowl, Refuge staff maintain waterfowl nesting structures. In addition, skunks, raccoons, mink, fox, muskrats, and beavers are removed to reduce the loss of ground nesting wildlife, burrowing damage to dikes, and the number of plugged water control structures. Hunting programs are designed to harvest the yearly increase in wildlife numbers to prevent overpopulation.