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Celebrate the Wonders of Nature!

Editor's note: National wildlife refuges provide habitat for more than 700 species of birds, 220 species of mammals, 250 reptile and amphibian species and more than 1,000 species of fish. More than 280 threatened or endangered plants or animals are protected on wildlife refuges. Each year, millions of migrating birds use refuges as stepping stones while they fly thousands of miles between their summer and winter homes.

Get in on the fun this week as our country celebrates National Wildlife Refuge Week! Venture to a nearby refuge to discover a world of natural wonder and enjoy some healthy, outdoor activity. 

The National Wildlife Refuge System is the nation’s premier habitat conservation network, protecting more than 150 million acres in 560 refuges and 38 wetland management districts. These places offer world-class fishing, hunting and wildlife watching, as well as hiking, paddling and nature photography. Refuges also create jobs for local communities and provide important ecological services that improve our air and water quality.

Hikers explore a trail at Wapack National Wildlife Refuge in New Hampshire.

Hikers explore a trail at Wapack National Wildlife Refuge in New Hampshire. (Photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Did You Know?

  • Each fall, monarch butterflies migrate south from cooler northern zones to winter in Mexico. For some monarchs, this remarkable journey spans up to 3,000 miles! You can witness this seasonal wonder at some refuges, including Quivira National Wildlife Refuge in Kansas and Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa, where rangers work with young visitors to track the monarchs’ flight by catching the butterflies in nets, tagging them and releasing them.
  • You don’t need fancy gear to see wildlife up close. Many refuges loan visitors field guides, compasses and binoculars. Ask for them at  J.N. “Ding Darling” National Wildlife Refuge in Florida and other wildlife refuges.
  • Refuges offer lots of free, family-friendly events year round.  For ideas on what to do with your family, check out these fun tips
  • The National Trails System contains over 60,000 miles in all 50 states! Here are “15 Stellar Trails” to try out during National Wildlife Refuge Week.  You can find a full listing of refuge trails in your state using this map.  

National Wildlife Refuge Week Highlights

Here is a sampling of the exciting events taking place at refuges this week:

Saturday, October 13:

The celebration at Doeskin Ranch features butterfly tagging and butterfly walks.

Enjoy a guided canoe tour along the Old Cache Channel. Reservations: 618- 634-2231.

Celebrate with a morning 5k Run/Walk, followed by activities throughout the day.

Saturday, October 20:

Enjoy live music, birding boat tours, a whooping crane kite show, wildlife puppets and drums caravan, crafts and interpretive tours at Three Sisters Springs.

Attend an open house at the refuge on the Big Island of Hawai’i. Take a guided bird hike in ancient rainforest habitat. View forest restoration planting sites. Tour the greenhouse where native koa, ohia and rare lobeliads and mints are being propagated.

Sunday, October 14 through Saturday, October 20:

Join refuge staff in a sunset nature walk. See the spectacular fall migration of ducks and other birds.

For a full list of events taking place this week, visit the Fish & Wildlife Service’s Special Events Calendar

To find a refuge near you, type in your zip code at:

Susan Morse is an editor and writer for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.