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

refuge visitor center with wetland in foreground
1434 316th Lane
Missouri Valley, IA   51555 - 7033
E-mail: desoto@fws.gov
Phone Number: 712-388-4800
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
The refuge visitor center contains artifacts from the steamboat Bertrand and intrepretive displays about the natural history of the area.
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  Recreation and Education Opportunities

Environmental Education
The Refuge offers an exciting outdoor classroom with prairie and forests along the Missouri River. In 2006, DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge and the Blair Community Schools partnered to create environmental education programs for 5th, 7th, and 10th grade students on the refuge. The Streamboat Bertand attracts a variety of students (4th-10th grade) to learn about the history of the Missouri River and view a treasure of civil-war era artifacts.

DeSoto Lake is a popular fishing site. Fishing is permitted April 15 - October 14. State and special Federal regulations apply when fishing at the refuge. While power boats are permitted, no-wake speeds are enforced. Marquardt Pond, is available to sponsored youth groups and has a accessible fishing pier and shelter. Ice fishing is allowed January 2 - end of February, when conditions permit.

Opportunities for archery and muzzleloader deer hunting are available on a limited basis. The refuge offers archery and muzzleloader white-tailed deer hunting, youth ring-necked pheasant hunts, and special wild turkey hunts. Interested hunters should contact the refuge for information about the hunting opportunities.

The refuge visitor center provides cultural and natural history exhibits and refuge information. The center, built in 1981, provides a theater, bookstore, viewing galleries overlooking DeSoto Lake, and artifacts excavated from the hull of the Steamboat Bertrand that sank here in 1865. Hours of operation are from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm daily, except Federal holidays.

Wildlife Observation
The Refuge provides a variety of opportunties for wildlife viewing along its 12 miles of roadway. Refuge visitors commonly see white-tailed deer and turkey. There are five self-guided nature trails (Bertand, Cottonwood, Grasslands, Missouri Meander, and Wood Duck Pond), roughtly 3/4 of a mile each, and one 1/4 mile wheel-chair accessible trail near the visitor center. The Bob Starr Wildlife Overlook is a popular site to view migrating waterfowl. Scattered around the DeSoto Lake are three wildlife photography blinds. Registration is required for more information contact the Refuge.

Refuge Headquarters: 7:30 am - 4:30 pm, Monday - Friday, except federal holidays. Visitor Center: 9:00 am - 4:30 pm daily, except federal holidays. Wildlife drive and outdoor facilities: 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset daily, except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day.

Entrance Fees
Daily entrance fees are $3.00 per vehicle. Fees are collected at the visitor center or self-service fee stations at entrances. Other vialid entrance permits include: The DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge annual pass ($15), Federal Duck Stamp, and America the Beautiful Annual, Senior, Access, or Volunteer Pass. Entrance permits can be purchased at the visitor center. The charge for commerical vans and buses up to 20 passengers is $20; 21 or more passengers is $30.

- Refuge Profile Page -