National Wildlife Refuge Week Activities

Celebrated annually during the second week of October, National Wildlife Refuge Week is a great time to connect with your local refuge. Here’s a sampling of activities across the country.

October 7

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.

Conservation Day on the WPA, St. Croix Wetland Management District, WI
150-400 Boy Scouts and community members will be collecting milkweed seed on waterfowl production areas (WPAs) to help see other WPAs. The day is a partnership with The Friends of the St. Croix WMD and the Boy Scouts of America.

Seney National Wildlife Refuge is holding it's youth in the outdoors day
Seney National Wildlife Refuge in Michigan is holding its
Youth in the Outdoors day on October 7 as part of National
Wildlife Refuge Week. Reservations are due by October 3.
Photo: Penny Gordon

Youth in the Outdoors, Seney National Wildlife Refuge, MI
Loads of activities to select, including mini, half-day and long sessions. Some activities may be demanding. Bring lunch. For more information or to participate, send email to Some activities can fulfill Scout badge requirements. Registration and $5 fee per participant required by October 3.

October 8-14

Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, NJ
Sunset Walks Every Night
5:30 p.m. to dark
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 12 is a special photographers’ walk when you can set up your cameras early. Reservations are required for October 12: 973-425-9510. Meet each evening at Bluebird Parking Lot, 197 Pleasant Plains Road in Harding Township. Easy walk on service roads.  

October 8 and October 14

Becoming an Outdoors Family Programs, Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, Marion, IL
Join one or more of several free classes and activities. Experienced birders will lead a Birding Tour October 8, starting at 8:15 a.m. Reservations are required.  On October 14, an Outdoor Spanish Immersion Class will help you learn a new language, which you can practice on a short hike with a bilingual ranger.

October 11

Creepy Critters Trick or Treat Event, Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge, La Crosse District, WI
Get ready for a howlin' good time: Trick or Treat around the refuge to learn about "creepy critters" like bats, owls, lamprey, moths, snakes, frogs and more! Fill your brain with facts and your bag with treats! Live animals, storytelling, face painting, puppet show and more.

October 14

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. From October 8-14, a normally “closed” area of the refuge will be open for bird viewing.

Arts and Crafts Nature Festival, Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge
2 Marshlands Rd, Fremont, CA
Fun-filled day, all free. You’ve got a range of choices: origami workshop; nature quilt; create a fish print tote bag; family bird walk; get creative with wildlife-shaped desserts; or take a salt marsh walk. The 2017 California winning Junior Duck Stamp art will be displayed.

Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge willhold it's Arts and Crafts nature festival October 14
Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge
in California will hold its Arts and Crafts nature
Festival on October 14 at the Fremont Visitor Center.
Photo: USFWS

Family Bird Walk, Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, CA
2 Marshlands Road, Fremont CA
10 a.m. to noon
Let family walks add to your family memories. We start by helping kids create their own bird watching field guides, then head to the trails. A limited number of binoculars are available to borrow. Recommended for children ages 5-10. Reservations required:  or call 510-792-0222, ext. 362.

Junior Ranger with Nature Play, Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, CA
Environmental Education Center
1751 Grand Blvd.
Alviso, CA
1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Become a Junior Ranger to celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week. Participate in hands-on activities to earn your badge. Best for kids 8-11. Nature walk is part of the program. Reservations required: or call 408-262-5513 ext.104

Family Day, Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge, MO
9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
It’s a day of variety: guided hikes in the Loess Hills, watch waterfowl through spotting scopes, learn about reptiles and amphibians, and learn the tools that wildlife biologists use.

National Wildlife Refuge Round Up, Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, TX
11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Enjoy the beauty of the refuge and family fun such as archery, fishing, BB guns, hiking, live animals, nature photography and art activities. Just 45 minutes northwest of Austin.

20th Annual Wild Things, Southeast Louisiana Refuge Complex, Lacombe, LA
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
110-Bayou Lacombe Center
Free admission, parking and activities, Wild Things is a fun day for the whole family to connect with the wild resources of the refuge. You can enjoy Bayou boat tours, live animal exhibits, live music, kids face painting – all free.

Philly Fall Nature Fest, John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, PA
9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
It’s the biggest event of the year, filled with free fun for the whole family. Fishing, guided nature walks, kayak tours on Darby Creek, archery, live animals, music and trolley shuttle tours. Food available.

The Big Sit! Birding Festival, Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, Liberty, TX
7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Champion Lake
The refuge will host The Big Sit! The rules couldn’t be easier for this national event: Join a 17-foot circle and identify all the birds you can see or hear. Champion Lake is located at the end of CR 417, two miles east of FM 1409 or about 10 miles south of Dayton.

Photo Contest Awards, Savannah National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, Hardeeville, SC
2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
694 Beech Hill Lane
Free light refreshments and a chance to see the winning photos of the 2017 contest. Join photographer Robert Rommel at 3:15 p.m. for his discussion about the key elements that give impact to nature photographs.

Second Saturday Stewardship, Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, IA
9 a.m. to noon
Give back to your community. Volunteers will be collecting seeds to help restore prairie habitat at the Refuge. Free lunch will be provided by the Friends of Neal Smith NWR. Pre-registration is required: 515-994- 3400.

Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge Cleanup, Seal Beach, CA
8 a.m.-noon
Help wildlife by removing trash on a rarely-visited area of the refuge along the Pacific Coast Highway. RSVP: 562-598-1024

Refuge Day, Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters, FL
9:00 a.m.-3:00 a.m.
Free boat Tours around Kings Bay. Contact Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, (352)-382-0102,

October 15-21

October 15 to 21 a week of eco-activities at Ding Darling
The hugely popular “Ding” Darling Days in Florida, October
15-21, is a week of eco-activities on the J.N. Ding
Darling National Wildlife wildlife presentations and more.
Photo: George Gentry
Ding” Darling Days, J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel, FL
A week of eco-activities with free tram tours, live wildlife presentations, hot dogs, kids’ crafts and other family activities. Birding, boating, paddle-boarding and kayaking fill the week. The 29th annual celebration ends with Conservation Art Day on October 21, where Federal Duck Stamp winners, other artists, cartooning and a photography tram tour will highlight a day devoted to Jay Norwood (Ding) Darling’s legacy as the first Duck Stamp artist and a Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist.

October 19

Annual Bison Auction, Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, OK
11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The refuge annually rounds up its free-ranging bison and sells surplus animals at an auction open to the public. It has become a large event with many local spectators and buyers from across the country.

October 21

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.

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.