Four Things To Do at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge

Written By

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge stretches nearly 70 miles along the Minnesota River. With much to see and do, the refuge provides our visitors with opportunities to create new and fun memories.


Stop by the Bloomington Education and Visitor Center

Our visitor center is a great starting point. Here you’ll have the opportunity to explore nature exhibits to learn more about Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge and its local wildlife and habitat, view art that rotates throughout the year at the Confluence Gallery, sit down and read a book by the fireplace or watch for bird activity at our bird feeder viewing area. There is a good chance you’ll see our resident wild turkeys!

We also have an information desk that is run by our volunteers to help with any questions you may have. Here you can check out free equipment like binoculars, explorer backpacks (contains different activities and gear to explore the outdoors) and snowshoes in the winter! In conjunction, we also issue America the Beautiful passes – for a list of available passes visit our Facility Services page.

Bloomington Education and Visitor Center - 3815 American Blvd. E, Bloomington, MN 55425

View our current open hours


Explore the Nature Play Area at Old Cedar Avenue

For kids and families, stroll by the Nature Play Area to enjoy a natural playground. You’ll have the chance to do a variety of activities that include building an eagle’s nest and beaver dam, crossing a log bridge or building a stick fort – all of the natural materials are gathered from refuge lands! At this clear, open, space youth can freely explore imaginative play and learn how the refuge is home to wildlife. Once you’ve tired yourselves out, grab a book from our Little Free Library for a reading session under the shade!

Old Cedar Avenue Trailhead - 9551 Old Cedar Ave S, Bloomington, MN 55425

The Nature Play Area is north from the pavilion  with a stroller-friendly route from the parking lot to the play area.


Attend an Upcoming Event 

Looking for a guided experience? Join us for one or more of the many free events and programs we offer throughout the year. This is a great chance to see what is happening on the refuge, learn from knowledgeable program leaders, try something new and to connect with others. Topics vary, but can range from regular birdwatching walks, seasonal recreational activities, to yearly celebrations. All of our programs are free and we welcome all. Check our Events page or follow us on Facebook to see what programs and events you may not want to miss!


Adventure throughout the Refuge 

There is so much to explore! Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge stretches over 14,000 acres along the Minnesota River, from Bloomington to Henderson, Minnesota. Some highlights include birding at Old Cedar Ave and Bass Ponds on the Long Meadow Lake Unit, cycling the River Bottoms Trail on the Bloomington Ferry Unit or visiting the glacial erratic found at the Louisville Swap Unit. Peek at our trail map brochures on our Trails page for more information on the different trails, viewing points and amenities available at each unit.

For more tips and any updates, head on over to our Visit Us page.

Story Tags