Visitor Activities

Sandhill Cranes by Mark Nicholson

For trip planning details, visit our Plan Your Visit and Maps pages!

  • Wildlife Viewing

    Wildlife Viewing by Bruce Ellingson

    The Prairie's Edge Wildlife Drive, Blue Hill and Mahnomen Hiking Trails all offer spectacular views and great opportunities to see Sherburne's myriad of wildlife species. Observation decks with spotting scopes give visitors the chance to scan for wildlife across the landscape.

    Songbirds, raptors, and waterfowl abound and an early morning hike can provide the the visitor with an enchanting symphony of sounds. Even a glimpse at red or grey fox, beaver, or river otter are possible to the quiet observer! For bird and wildlife sightings, visit the Recent Sightings and Guides page.

    In October, thousands of sandhill cranes converge on the refuge marshes and a visit at dawn or dusk will provide the rare treat of large flocks of birds flying in or out of the refuge. Reference the Sandhill Crane Viewing Brochure for more information!  

  • Photography

    Wildlife Photography at Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge

    There are many great photographic opportunities during a visit to Sherburne, especially along the Prairie's Edge Wildlife Drive. Whether you are looking for wildflowers in the spring and fall, waterfowl and wetlands or beautiful landscapes, be sure to stop at the Bur Oak Welcome Station at the beginning of the Wildlife Drive for current sightings and notes left by Volunteer Roving Interpreters.

    The Sherburne NWR Photography Club meets the second Wednesday of the month at the Oak Savanna Learning Center, with social time starting at 6:30 pm and the meeting starting at 7:00 pm (*currently being held virtually). Check out their flyer, brochure, or Facebook page for more information!

    Commercial still photography is allowed following refuge regulations and does not require a special use permit. Reference the Rules and Regulations page for specifics. All commercial filming requires a special use permit.

  • Fishing

    Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge

    Fishing is allowed on the refuge following Minnesota State Regulations. From March 1 to August 31, fishing is allowed only on banks 100 yards up or down-stream of the designated fishing access points and from non-motorized boats on the designated canoe route specified in our Public Use Regulations and Map Brochure.

    From September 1 to February 28, fishing is allowed throughout the entire refuge, excluding for the closed areas.

  • Interpretation

    Wagon Rides Bruce Ellingson

    For a more guided experience, join us at one of our free interpretative programs or events! Celebrate World Migratory Bird Day in mid-May each year, when refuge tours, children's activities, information booths, and a perennial plant sale are held. An annual Wildlife Festival is held each fall in the end of September, offering live animal programs, educational activities, hands-on informational booths and horse-drawn wagon rides. 

    For current and upcoming events, visit our Events Calendar!

  • Hunting

    Hunting Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge

    Sherburne offers waterfowl, small game and deer hunting during state seasons following Minnesota Hunting Regulations and Refuge Rules and Regulations. The refuge is divided into three hunting areas and only those species listed in the Refuge Hunting Regulations and Map Brochure may be taken; the refuge is not open for deer muzzleloader, mourning dove, crow, predator, coyote, bear, raccoon or general turkey hunting.

    All hunting is prohibited March 1 to August 31, during the refuge wildlife sanctuary period.

    The refuge encourages deer hunters to consider using lead free ammunition while hunting. Research has found that lead pieces left behind in the gut piles of deer are dangerous and even deadly to the eagles and other wildlife that eat them. Learn more at

  • Nature Education

    Nature Education

    Sherburne Refuge takes a community approach to nature education and uses a model called the "Expedition Model." Like Lewis and Clark, we need to plan carefully, select skilled people from the community to join our team, and expect a long-term commitment from our partners to reach our goal of connecting kids to nature. For more information about our education programming and field trip opportunities, visit our For Educators page!