The leaves are starting to change, and the sweaters are coming out of storage. That means it's time to get out there and enjoy the fall weather at a national fish hatchery. What's that? You've never visited a fish hatchery? Well let us be the first to welcome you to one of the best kept secrets in the land. The National Fish Hatchery System is one of the oldest federal conservation efforts in the country. Hatcheries raise fish and other aquatic species for conservation, but they are soooo much more! Here are five easy ways you can get out and enjoy fall on a national fish hatchery.
1. Take a hike in the crisp fall air.
Leadville Nation Fish Hatchery — Leadville, Colorado
Whether you need a place to stretch your legs or you are looking to tackle a mountain — a trail on a national fish hatchery is the perfect opportunity to throw on a cozy sweater and tell your friends how much you just love that “crisp fall air!”
Leadville National Fish Hatchery is a great place to do all the fall things you’ve been dreaming of. Beautiful leaves, check. Crisp mountain air, check. Gorgeous fish, check. Pumpkin Spice Latte, we’ll leave that up to you. From the hatchery you can find trailhead access into the Mount Massive Wilderness Area, and the Rock Creek, Highline and Kearney Park trails, with different routes starting and ending on the hatchery grounds. Be sure to bring your binoculars for the spectacular wildlife viewing, such as mountain bluebirds, juncos, jays, hawks, eagles, waterfowl, elk, deer, porcupines, fox and pine martens.
2. Enjoy the colors!
Genoa National Fish Hatchery — Genoa, Wisconsin
Genoa National Fish Hatchery is an easy stop along the Great River Road Scenic Byway, one of the most scenic highways in the country. From maple leaves to the the maple leaf mussels that they raise on site, Genoa National Fish Hatchery is a great place to explore fall colors all year long. Meander along a wetland and native prairie boardwalk, mosey down an easy a walking trail, and tour the visitor center and culture buildings housing 24 species of fish, freshwater mussels, and amphibians.
3. Peep a fish!
D. C. Booth National Fish Hatchery and Archives— Spearfish, South Dakota
A trip to D.C. Booth National Fish Hatchery and Archives brings you up close and personal with gorgeous brown trout and rainbow trout. Even if you missed peak color for leaf peeping, you can still do some fish peeping while you feed the fish at D.C. Booth’s outdoor ponds and underwater viewing windows. For the history buffs in your group (you know who you are) D.C. Booth offers tours of the Von Bayer Museum of Fish Culture, the historic 1905 Booth House, and a replica of Fish Car #3 - a railcar used to transport fish in the 1880's. Visitors are welcome to visit the grounds daily from dawn to dusk! 🐟🍁
4. Support endangered species recovery!
Gavins Point National Fish Hatchery — South Dakota
Once you’re done feeding the fish and frolicking on the two miles of nature trails at Gavins Point National Fish Hatchery, you can check out the 10,000 gallon aquarium to see rare and unique fish, amphibians and reptiles! Get a close-up look at softshell turtles, pallid sturgeon, giant bullfrogs, sportfish and salamanders! Gavins Point is one of the many hatcheries across the country that raise and safeguard endangered fish and aquatic species for conservation!
5. Go fishing while you bird! (Or is it birding while you fish?)
Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery — Leavenworth, Washington
Many national fish hatcheries offer great birding and fishing opportunities that are accessible to all ages and abilities. At Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery, the Icicle Creek Nature Trail is a one-mile loop trail that is fully accessible and offers an excellent opportunity to see birds, fish and other wildlife in their natural environment. It is also a National Recreation Trail National Recreation Trail
A National Recreation Trail is a land-based or water-based trail that provides an outdoor recreation opportunity on federal, state, tribal or local public land. National Recreation Trails were established by the National Trails System Act of 1968 (Public Law 90-543), which authorized creation of a national trails system composed of National Recreation Trails, National Scenic Trails and National Historic Trails. Whereas National Scenic Trails and National Historic Trails may be designated only by an act of Congress, National Recreation Trails may be designated by the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture to recognize exemplary trails of local and regional significance.
Learn more about National Recreation Trail and part of the Cascade Loop of the Audubon Society’s Great Washington State Birding Trail. It is an enjoyable non-strenuous walk for families and nature enthusiasts.
Want to learn to fish?
People fish for many reasons: spending time and creating memories with family and friends, enjoying the challenge of catching a fish, being outdoors and near water, or for many, just soaking in some quiet solitude. Whatever your reason, now is a great time to plan a fall fishing trip!
You could be fishing in just three easy steps:
- Get a license. Licensing fees stay local, and support conservation efforts that benefit everyone.
- Grab some simple gear, check out our guide to fishing for the first time for tips.
- Find some fish!
National Fish Hatchery System ~ Since 1872 the National Fish Hatchery system has been at work improving recreational fishing and restoring aquatic species that are in decline or at risk. Across the country the network of National Fish Hatcheries work with states and tribes to conserve, restore and enhance the fish and aquatic resources of America for future generations. More than one million people visit a National Fish Hatchery every year to fish, hunt, hike, go birdwatching, and simply enjoy the outdoors.