Picture this: You're driving down the interstate, cruise control on, windows down, stereo blasting. It's a perfect 80 degrees, you don't have to work, and you've got the whole day ahead of you. You pull off the road and a beautiful vista lies in front of you. A pond sparkles in the sunshine, birds are chirping happily in the trees, and best of all...it's peaceful. You pop the trunk and pull out a fishing pole, that set of watercolors you've been meaning to use, your best pair of broken-in hiking boots, and breathe in the fresh summer air. But wait, where the heck are you?  

Is it a national park? If we were going on overall vibes, the answer might be yes.  

Is it a national wildlife refuge national wildlife refuge
A national wildlife refuge is typically a contiguous area of land and water managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  for the conservation and, where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

Learn more about national wildlife refuge
? Getting warmer, but think more fins.  

Is it one of the nation's most underrated outdoor destinations...national fish hatcheries? Ding ding ding! We have a winner!  

So what is this National Fish Hatchery thing?

The National Fish Hatchery System has been improving recreational fishing and restoring aquatic species since 1872 (uhhhh, yeah that makes them 150 years old!). In addition to rec fishing, they recover threatened and endangered species, restore at-risk species that are not yet endangered, and fulfill tribal partnerships and trust responsibilities. In addition to all of these awesome services, lots of folks might not even know that their grounds are often open to the public!

But I'm not an angler.

We'll let you in on a little secret...you don't have to be angler to enjoy your visit (but don't tell our boss we said that). Hatcheries offer something for everyone in your group, which means no more disgruntled sighs from the backseat! We have activity suggestions broken into five categories for different interests: anglers, explorers, animal lovers, historians, and artists!

Is there even a hatchery near me?

Great question! This road trip series will focus on hatcheries over 100 years old, but there are plenty of others throughout the country that you can visit! For road trip fun, click the general areas of the U.S. along the left hand side of the page to see if any are in your state. If you don't see one, head over to our map to see where others are located. 

Ok, I'm hooked. How does this work?

Each hatchery highlighted in our road trip extravaganza has four sections of information:

🚙 Trip Highlights: This is where you'll find hatchery activity suggestions for different folks in your group. These aren't full lists, just some of the things we think are pretty cool. Before you hit the road, be sure to check each hatchery's web page for additional activities and we recommend calling ahead to check on their opening status and any possible closures. We've also got some good info on how and where to purchase a fishing license, if that's on your activity itinerary!

🚧 Detour: Is it really a road trip if you only go to one place? Well, yeah, but where's the fun in that? We've provided each hatchery with a nearby pit stop suggestion for the free spirits among us. (Full disclosure, besties: We haven't actually been to any of these spots and are in no way promoting them over other destinations, they just sound fun. Please do your research beforehand to check on fees, accessibility, travel restrictions, etc!)

🎶 Featured Song: One of the best parts of a road trip is the playlist. You probably have your own set of cool tunes, but we couldn't resist including some other suggestions for your listening pleasure!

🧭 Road Map: Ok, it's not actually a real map, but it's a fun, colorful graphic you can share online or print out for your trip! 

Buckle those seatbelts, click on a region you want to visit in the left hand navigation, and get ready for some fishy fun!