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Information iconJ.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, FL. George Gentry/USFWS

National Wildlife Refuge Week

October 14-20, 2018
October 13-19, 2019

National Wildlife Refuge Week, observed the second full week of October each year, celebrates the great network of lands and waters that conserves and protects Americans’ precious wildlife heritage.

The National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, provides vital habitat for thousands of native species, including sandhill cranes, bison and sea turtles.  Refuge Week is a wonderful time to discover the outstanding recreational opportunities available on national wildlife refuges. Tens of millions of Americans visit refuges each year to enjoy fishing, hunting, hiking and wildlife watching.

Wildlife refuges also improve Americans’ comfort and safety by curbing flood risk and wildfire damage, providing cleaner air and water, and supporting local communities. Refuges generate $2.4 billion per year and more than 35,000 jobs to regional economies.

The Refuge System includes 567 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts covering more than 100 million acres of lands. Here are some events for Refuge Week 2018. Look for more Refuge Week activities as the week draws closer.

September 29 
10 to 3 p.m.
Wildlife Festival, Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge, southeast Minnesota
Enjoy a family-friendly day of activities, including horse drawn wagon rides, nature crafts and live animal presentations of native Minnesota species.

September 29
Build Your Refuge Day, Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, NM
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Help build the first trail on the refuge (training and tools provided), voice ideas for education and interpretation programs, and contribute to the design of the visitor center. Also enjoy kid friendly activities, refuge tours, food trucks, live music and free aguas frescas. Please wear closed-toed shoes for trail building. Organized groups, please RSVP to 

September 30
Noon to 3 p.m.
Birding Festival, Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge, north-central New Mexico
Enjoy hay rides, kids’ crafts, archery instruction and a concert for the birds featuring local bands.

a young visitor holding fake animal scat
Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, VA. (Steve Hillebrand/USFWS)

October 5-7

BirdFest and Bluegrass Celebration, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Ridgefield, WA

The refuge’s biggest annual event celebrates return of the sandhill cranes to the refuge with workshops, nature walks, bluegrass music, a live bird show and many other events. For more information, visit Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.

October 6
Wildlife Festival, Patuxent Research Refuge, Laurel, MD
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Take in a free festival for Refuge Week. Enjoy live animals, children’s crafts, tram tours, scientific demonstrations, and behind-the-scenes research tours to see where endangered whooping cranes and sea ducks are raised and studied.

October 6
Crane Day, Merced National Wildlife Refuge, Merced, CA
8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Join one of two free guided tours to see sandhill cranes and other winter birds that are arriving in great number. There is no need to sign up in advance. Just show up at the refuge entrance at 8 a.m. or 5:30 p.m. Each tour will last two hours.

October 12-14
“Ding” Darling Days, J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, southwest Florida.
This popular week-long festival offers lots of activities, including free tram tours, live wildlife presentations, birding, boating, paddle-boarding and kayaking. The 30th annual celebration ends with Conservation Art Day on October 20, when Federal Duck Stamp winners and other artists will honor the legacy of political cartoonist Jay Norwood (Ding) Darling, the first Duck Stamp artist.

October 13
Tule Elk Day, San Luis National Wildlife Refuge, central CA
8 a.m. to close.
Join a free tour to see tule elk, a subspecies of North American elk found only in California. Sign up in advance: 209-826-3508; spaces are limited.

October 13
Beer ‘n Brauts Community Celebration, Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge, Long Island, NY
Kick off National Wildlife Refuge Week with this family event sponsored by Friends of Wertheim and Blue Point Brewing Company. Featuring suare dancing, outdoor games and activities, local craft beer and soda, brauts and hot dogs. $20 for adults and children over 13; children 12 and under get in free.

October 13  
Celebration 5K Run/Walk, Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, Mayville, WI
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Celebrate Refuge Week with a race on the auto tour route. Register at 9 a.m. Event starts at 10 a.m. Pre-register here. A road rally (scavenger hunt) and other fun activities will follow the morning run/walk.

October 13
Refuge Round Up!, Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, central Texas
Noon to 4 p.m.
Enjoy your pick of dozens of hands-on activities such as hiking, fishing, archery.

Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO. Ian Shive/USFWS

October 13  
Log Cabin Day Festival, Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, southern Indiana
11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 
Enjoy a festival at Myers Cabin, sponsored by Muscatatuck Wildlife Society, featuring old-time crafts, music, wildlife exhibits and children's activities. For the week of October 14-20, a normally “closed” area of the refuge will be open to birders and walk-in visitors.

October 13
Refuge Week activities, Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Fremont and Alviso, CA  
Activities you can pick from include Tai Chi and nature walk, a walk along the Mallard Slough Trail, a family bird walk, family yoga and a twilight marsh walk.

October 13
Fall celebration, Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge, northern LA

Enjoy fun activities for the whole family, including the turning of the Goose to represent the fall migration.

October 13
Philly Fall Nature Fest, John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, Philadelphia, PA 
9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The refuge’s biggest event of the year is free and activities including fishing, guided nature walks, kayak tours on Darby Creek, archery, live animals, music and trolley shuttle tours. The event is part of River Days, a four-week celebration of the Delaware River watershed, featuring 23 environmental education centers.  

hike w ranger Debby Good at San Diego Refuge
San Diego National Wildlife Refuge, CA. Lisa Cox/USFWS

October 13
Volunteer event, Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, IA
Help collect seeds to restore prairie habitat at the refuge. Pre-registration is required. Please call 515-994-3400 to register.

October 13
11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Discover Refuge Wildlife, Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
Discover bison, deer, hawks, black-footed ferrets and more refuge wildlife. Head to the Visitor Center for archery, wildlife activity booths and wildlife arts and crafts. See live raptors, reptiles, amphibians and mammals. All activities are free.

October 14
National Wildlife Refuge Week, Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, WI
Enjoy speakers, hikes, tours and hands-on activities all week long.

October 14
National Wildlife Refuge Week, DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, IA and NE

Enjoy a last-chance fishing clinic, a wetland birding hike and other bird-migration-related activities.

October 14-20
Sunset Walks Every Night, Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, NJ
5:30 p.m. to dusk
Join the Friends of Great Swamp nightly to watch the many species of migrating ducks that descend into the refuge pools to spend the night. October 18 is a special photographers’ walk when you can set up your cameras early. Reservations are required for October 18: 973-425-9510. Meet at Bluebird Parking Lot, 197 Pleasant Plains Road in Harding Township.

October 18  
Annual Bison Auction, Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, OK
11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The refuge’s annual roundup of its free-ranging bison and public auction of surplus animals attracts many local spectators and buyers from across the country. The refuge will also conduct a wildlife photography class on October 6 and will organize volunteer trail work projects the first two weekends in October.

October 18
4 to 8 p.m.
Creepy Critters, Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, LaCrosse District, WI
Put on a costume and enjoy a howling good time learning about owls, bats, lamprey, snakes, frogs and more.

October 20
Bike tour, Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge,  
Alviso, CA
1 to 3 p.m.
Join a bike tour along the Mallard Slough Trail and learn about the importance of the Coyote Creek watershed. The ride is 4.5 miles. Helmets are required.

October 20
Family Day, Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge, MO
Enjoy guided hikes, waterfowl viewing through spotting scopes, learning about reptiles and amphibians and more.

October 20
2 to 4 p.m.
Super Saturday, Fairbanks Children’s Museum, Fairbanks, AK
Kids can touch pelts and skulls of Alaska animals, pretend they're floating a river in an inflatable canoe, and learn more about refuges. Arctic, Yukon Flats and Kanuti National Wildlife Refuges will help host the activities to celebrate Refuge Week and the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Refuge artist in residence Margo Klass will help kids create a note card using natural materials, such as leaves, sticks, lichen, and animal fur. 

October 20
Wildlife Celebration, Red River National Wildlife Refuge, northwestern LA
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Enjoy a day full of free, wildlife-themed activities and events in honor of Refuge Week. Highlights include canoeing, archery, an animal skull-ID maze and a story trail.

Find more special events on national wildlife refuges across the country. Find a national wildlife refuge in your state


Information iconBosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, NM. Marvin De Jong