U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service logo A Unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System
Banner graphic displaying the Fish & Wildlife Service logo and National Wildlife Refuge System tagline

National Wildlife Refuge

Red-necked grebes are approximately 20 inches in length.  When in breeding plumage, adults have a reddish foreneck that strongly contrasts with white throat feathers.
44401 134A St.
Waubay, SD   57273
E-mail: waubay@fws.gov
Phone Number: 605-947-4521
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
A red-necked grebe approaching its nest.
Gray horizontal line
Waubay National Wildlife Refuge

"Waubay," means "a place where numbers of birds make their nests" in the Dakota language. The Refuge encompasses 4,650 acres of wetlands, native tallgrass prairie, and bur oak forest that provide a wide variety of nesting habitat for more than 100 species of waterfowl, song birds, and upland game birds as well as 140 additional bird species during migrations. Mammals include species from the ever present white-tailed deer to the more elusive coyote and the diminutive pygmy shrew. The central location of Waubay National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in North America gives visitors the chance to see a mix of eastern, western, northern, and southern species.

Getting There . . .
Waubay NWR is located just west of Enemy Swim Lake or 1 mile east, 7 miles north and 1 ½ miles west of the town of Waubay in the northeast corner of South Dakota. From I-29 take SD 12 west toward Aberdeen for 13 miles (one mile east of Waubay). Take Day Co. 1 (not well marked - watch for a brown highway information sign on HWY 12) north 7 miles and continue west on the gravel road into the Refuge - look for brown Refuge signs. The road leads 1 ½ to the visitor center.

Get Google map and directions to this refuge/WMD from a specified address:

Your full starting address AND town and state OR zip code

Google Maps opens in a new window

NOTE: When using this feature, you will be leaving the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service domain. We do not control the content or policies of the site you are about to visit. You should always check site policies before providing personal information or reusing content.

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.

horizontal line

Wildlife and Habitat

Glaciers formed the rolling hills and wetlands that help make this the most productive region in North America for breeding waterfowl.

Learn More>>

Archeological evidence shows this area was inhabited 1,000-3,000 years ago, as well as more recently by Native American tribes.

Learn More>>

    Recreation and Education Opportunities
Environmental Education
Wildlife Observation
Learn More >>

Management Activities
Refuge management activities focus on improving and maintaining native prairie, planted grasslands, and crop lands. Prescribed burning, haying, and cattle grazing are all used to simulate the historic patterns of fire and grazing on the prairie. Some Refuge lands are managed as crop land and planted with winter rye, corn, millet, and other crops that benefit wildlife such as wintering white-tailed deer, seed-eating song birds, pheasants, sharp-tailed grouse, and Canada geese. Both chemical treatments and beneficial insect releases are used to control noxious weeds such as Canada thistle and leafy spurge. Native plants suffer when these invaders take over.

Native forests include a mix of oak savanna and oak/basswood/ash forests. Management emphasis has been on protection of these forests, with infrequent prescribed fire to maintain savanna type habitats.

Refuge lakes and marshes are primarily left to the whims of natural wet/dry cycles typical of northern prairies. For this reason, large fluctuations may be seen in water conditions, which ultimately affect the wildlife species that may be seen and how Refuge lands are managed.