Nature Areas

Please look to the experts for more detailed, wonderful information on the nature areas in Northwest Minnesota.  These experts include The Nature Conservatory at, the Nature Northwest web site at and These sites contain easy to use information, maps and details about what to find at several key sites. 

State Parks of Northwestern Minnesota

Old Mill State Park (between Warren and Newfolden)

Hayes Lake State Park (near Roseau)

Lake Bronson State Park (in Lake Bronson)

Red River State Recreation Area (in East Grand Forks)

Wildlife and Bird Watching Areas of Northwestern Minnesota

Beltrami Island State Forest

Glacial Ridge Nature Conservancy

Northwest Angle State Forest

Roseau Bog Owl Management Unit

Roseau Lake Wildlife Management Area

Roseau River Wildlife Management Area

Rydell National Wildlife Refuge

Thief Lake Wildlife Management Area

Wetlands, Pine and Prairie Audubon Sanctuary near Warren

Check out the Pine to Prairie Birding Trail web site for more great information. 

Please e-mail any changes or updates to your listing to Jennifer.


  Old Mill State Park  218-437-8174 or 218-754-2200

  33489 240th Ave. NW

  Contact: Park Office

  17 mi. NE of Warren, or 13 miles E of Argyle or 11 miles W of Newfolden on

  County Road 4.

  *  Open year round

  * 8 am to 10 pm registered campers only after 10

  *  State Park fees

  Camping - Modern camping with showers, flush toilets, 10 electric & water hookups. Primitive camping.  1 group campsite.

  Information - Summer Nature Interpretation, enclosed picnic shelter, swimming, canoeing, fishing, volleyball, horseshoe pit and playground.  Historical sites include a flour grinding mill.  Suspension bridges and Sliding Hill in the park.

  Trails - Biking, 7 miles of cross-country skiing and hiking trails, Snowshoeing, and 3.5

  Miles of groomed trails, warming house with electricity and fireplace.  The park's trails run through prairie, wooded river valley and pine areas.


  Chicog Wildlife Management Area  218-281-6063

  11 miles SE of Crookston on MN Hwy. 102 to Melvin; 1 mile S on township rd.

  Information - 1,624 acre example of some of Minnesota’s remaining mesic prairie.  Winter

  opportunities include exploration by snowshoe and cross-country skiing.  Spring and

  fall brings migrating cranes.

  Glacial Ridge Nature Conservancy   218-637-2146

  10 miles east of Crookston on Hwy 2.

  Information - More than 24,000 acres.  Established Oct. 12, 2004 as the 545th National Wildlife Refuge.  The Nature Conservancy's largest prairie-wetland restoration project in U.S. history. Prairie chicken blinds available, please call for reservations.

  Pankratz Memorial Prairie  218-498-2679

  6 miles E of Crookston on Hwy. 2; 1.5 miles S on County Rd. 46; E on gravel rd.

  to parking lot.

  Information - 2 units: 468 & 452 acres.  A boulder can be seen that has been rubbed smooth by past buffalo herds.

  Pembina Trail Scientific & Natural Area   218-498-2679

  9 miles W of Mentor on Co. Rd 45.

  Information - 2,360 acres on/near a prominent beach ridge at the eastern edge of Glacial Lake

  Agassiz.  The site is associated with the Pembina trail, a major ox-cart route that

  traders used to haul furs and supplies between Winnipeg and St. Paul.  Also see

  Tympanuchus Wildlife Management Area  218-281-6063

  3 miles E of Harold's Station on Co. Rd 45.

  Information - This 840 acre WMA is open to public hunting, trapping and other compatible

  recreational uses.  It is a remnant tall grass prairie with minor amounts of brush and

  trees.  This area has some of the highest rare species diversity of any WMA

East Grand Forks

  Red River State Recreation Area  866-857-2757 or 218-773-4950

  515 2nd St. NW

  1 block north of Cabela's in East Grand Forks.

  * Daily

  Camping - 72 camping sites located in campground next to downtown East Grand Forks. 

  Electrical, sewer and water hookups, dump station nearby and flush toilets.  Modern

  restrooms are open May - Sept.

  Information - This 1,200-acre state recreation area came about as a result of housing removal after the flood of 1997.  Located near the area: groceries, ice, snacks, golf course and laundry.  Swimming pool, picnic area, playground, fishing, tackle, live bait, camping gear, gas and boat ramp.  Partially encompassed in the Grand Forks/East Grand Forks Greenway.

  Trails - 5 miles of paved hiking and biking trails.  2 mile cross country skiing trail.


  Rydell National Wildlife Refuge   218-687-2229

  17788 349th St. SE

  Refuge Manager: Dave Bennett

  2.5 Miles W. of Erskine on Highway 2, 2.5 miles S. on Highway 210

  Information - 2,120 acre refuge established in 1992.  Includes a visitor center with bookstore,

  wildlife observation and photography, hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing,

  fishing, hunting and environmental education.

  Trails - 7 miles of trails.


  Agassiz Dunes  218-574-2622

  1 mile south and 1 mile east of Fertile.

  Hiking Trails allow a close view of the area.

  Information - Preserved remnant of the sand dunes that northwest winds pushed up on the eastern beaches of glacial Lake Agassiz. Operated by the Nature Conservancy.

  Fertile Nature Center Building   218-945-3129 or 218-945-3136

  400 W. Summit Ave.

  Contact: Lisa Liden

  Camping - Primitive camping with flush toilets and showers

  Information - Picnic area and modern washrooms.

  Trails - Ten miles of hiking and cross country ski trails along the Sand Hill River and

  through the Fertile Sand Hills.

  Fertile Sand Hills Recreation Area   218-945-3129

  400 W. Summit Ave.

  Contact: Kirsten Fuglseth

  One mile east of Fertile.

  Information - West Mill Recreation Area.  Self-guided nature trail highlighting the unique sand dune formations, oak savanna and native prairie of remnant glacial Lake Agassiz. Nature trail along Sand Hill River.

  Trails - Ten miles of hiking and cross country ski trails along the Sand Hill River & through

  the Fertile Sand Hills.  Trail maps available at the Fertile Community Center and on-site.

  Public Nature Areas  218-945-3129

  400 W. Summit Ave.

  Contact: Kirsten Fuglseth

  Information - Open to Public Touring.  Over a dozen wildlife management areas within 15 miles of Fertile.  Native prairies offer spectacular wildflower blooms from April to October.  Courting displays of prairie chickens and sharptail grouse during April and May.  Maps to natural areas available at Fertile Community Center.


  Agassiz-Olson Wildlife Management Area  218-847-1579

  Contact: Earl Johnson

  5 Miles north on Hwy 32, 5 West CSAH 5.

  Information - This unit is mainly wet prairie.  A major feature is a flood control structure that allows a 300-acre open-water wetland to form.  Sandhill cranes have nested here and the pool supports waterfowl.  Greater prairie-chickens have used open areas for booming grounds.



  Gully Fen (SNA)

  1.3 miles North of Gully on Co. Rd. 2

  Information - Includes calcareous seepage fens, tamarack & shrub seepage swamps, conifer & hardwood swamps and rich fens. This location was previously threatened by development of rice paddies and logging. Two areas of note that occur in the upper reaches of the site include a 100 acre calcareous fen & a complex of tamarack with calcareous and rich fens. Birding and wildlife viewing.   



  Pine to Prairie Birding Trail   218-436-2427

  Contact: DNR, Karlstad, MN

  Information - 43 stops available. Kittson County part of trail goes through the Twin Lakes Wildlife Area.

  Twin Lakes State Wildlife Management Area (WMA)  218-436-2427

  Contact: DNR, Karlstad, MN

  4 miles NE, SH 11.

  Camping - Camping is permitted at 7 signed sites.

  Information - 8,200 Acres. Recreation includes hiking, snow shoeing, cross country skiing, berry picking, canoeing and wildlife viewing. Water access is available at several locations adjacent to the marshes. There is a viewing platform located off Hwy. 11 that overlooks the marsh that is wheelchair accessible. The WMA contains a 1,200 acre waterfowl sanctuary. No trespass or hunting is allowed in the sanctuary during September and October.

  Trails - A groomed snowmobile trail runs through the WMA.


Lake Bronson

  Beaches Lake State Wildlife Management Area (WMA) 218-436-2427

  Just NE of Lake Bronson State Park.

  Camping - Seven camping sites are posted with camping permitted signs.

  Information - This WMA is one of the largest in the state (31,000 acres).  Come see moose or listen to the wolves howl.

  Trails - A groomed snowmobile trail goes through the unit.

  Lake Bronson State Park   218-754-2200

  Hwy. 28 E.

  2 miles E of Lake Bronson on South branch of Two Rivers.

  *  Open year round.

  *  24 hours

  *  Normal State Park Fees

  Camping - 162 semi modern campsites, electrical hook-ups, dump station,

  showers, flush toilets. There is 1 handicapped, 3 backpack, 1 group camp and 2 canoe

   in sites. Group camp has an enclosed shelter with dining hall, fridge, stove & toilets

  on site.

  Information -Boat rental and landing, power boating, canoeing, sailing and fishing.  Swimming, picnicking, playground, watch tower, volleyball, snacks, and ice fishing.

  Trails - Biking and 14 miles of hiking trails, 7 miles of groomed cross country ski trails and

2 1/2 miles of paved bike trail.  1.5 mile self-guided trail.



  Aspen Parkland Landscape   218-436-2427

  Contact: DNR, Karlstad, MN

  Information -Links with the Aspen Parkland Landscape in Manitoba.  Ecological classification with various habitats.  Kittson County is 50% in the Aspen Parkland Landscape and 50% in the Red River Prairie.

  Caribou State Wildlife Management Area (WMA) 218-436-2427

  Contact: DNR, Karlstad, MN

  North of County Rd 4 on County 51.

  Camping - Three camping sites are posted with camping permitted signs.

  Information - Just under 14,000 acres.  There have been sightings of Elk, Bear & Timber Wolves.  An example of the Aspen Parkland Landscape in NW Minnesota.  This WMA is open to public hunting, trapping, hiking, berry picking and wildlife viewing.

  Joe River State Wildlife Management Area (WMA)  218-379-3205

  Contact: DNR, Karlstad MN

  Approx. 15 miles NE of Lancaster, near Canadian border.

  Information - 160 acre marsh/grassland.  Great place to view a variety of waterfowl, including Ruddy Ducks.  Limited opportunities for waterfowl, Sharp-tailed grouse and Hungarian partridge hunting.  Muskrat, mink, raccoon and fox offer some trapping.

  Skull Lake State Wildlife Management Area (WMA)  218-436-2427

  Contact: DNR, Karlstad, MN

  East of Lancaster off of County Rd 4.

  Camping - Primitive camping sites, free with first come, first serve availability.  Camping areas are identified with "Camping Permitted" signs.

  Information - 7,500 acres of unique topography, unique upland prairie.  Elk, Bear and Timber Wolves have been spotted in this region.  Cross-country skiing opportunities available.  This is the only WMA in Kittson County where blueberries have been found.  Hunting opportunities for grouse and deer are excellent.

  Trails - A groomed snowmobile trail runs through the unit.


Middle River

  Thief Lake Wildlife Management Area  218-222-3747

  42280 240th Ave. NE

  Contact: DNR, Thief Lake Headquarters

  Camping - Primitive camping in designated areas.

  Information - 55,000 acres of wildlife habitat, including marshes, forests, brushlands, and prairie.  Wildlife present seasonally include waterfowl and other marsh birds, deer, moose, bear, grouse, rabbits, furbearers, songbirds, sandhill cranes, and raptors.  Activities include hunting for waterfowl, big and small game, and nature viewing.  A scenic overview of the lake with interpretive signing and picnic shelter are available.  Contact the headquarters for maps and bird lists.

Red Lake Falls

  Old Crossing Treaty Park   218-253-2684

  At Huot between Crookston and Red Lake Falls.

  Camping - Pristine riverside, natural hardwoods, excellent walking, biking, swimming, tubing,

  boating & canoeing with public access to the Red Lake and Black Rivers. Water,

  power, outdoor restrooms support all phases of free camping & day use. Superb

  family site.

  Information - This park was the site of an 1863 treaty between the U.S. government and Red

  Lake/Pembina Ojibwe.  Oxcart traffic also favored the area.  Historical park, historical

  interpretations in summer and fall.  Boat landing, water, fishing, playground.

  Adjacent to the park is a DNR Wildlife Management Area where hiking and wildlife

  watching opportunities exist.


  Hayes Lake State Park   218-425-7504

  48990 County Road 4

  15 miles S of Roseau on State Hwy 89, then 9 miles E on County Rd 4.

  Camping - 18 electric sites, 35 semi modern campsites, flush toilets, dump station, showers. 

  Two camping cabins, two backpack sites, and one group camp.  There are two handicapped sites.

  Information - Northwoods pine forest in remote lake setting.   Man made lake popular for canoeing, fishing and swimming.  Boat landing. Summer Nature Interpretation, playground and

picnic shelter.  Bald Eagles, Gray Jay, Spruce Grouse, Winter Finches on 3,000 acres of park.

  Trails - 5 miles of biking, 13 miles of hiking, and 7 miles of horseback riding trails.  6 miles of groomed ski trails.  2.5 mile self guided trail.  6 miles of snowmobiling trails, and snowshoeing.  Trails are located in pine forest on the edge of the lake. Connects with Beltrami Island Trail. Food and gas available one mile from park.

  Roseau Bog Owl Management Unit   218-463-1557

  Information -Great Gray Owl, Northern Hawk Owl, Boreal Owl, Northern Saw Whet Owl, Great Horned Owl, Spruce Grouse.  Look for these various owls on 8,960 acres of peat bog

covered with black spruce, tamarack and cedar.

  Roseau Lake Wildlife Management Area   218-463-1130

  27952 400th St.

  6 miles NW of Roseau on County Road 123

  Information -Currently 6,000 acres with ongoing acquisition of adjoining land in order to complete the WMA and flood control project.   Roseau Lake was drained in the early 1900's. 

Prior to drainage the area had a rich history of wildlife use and public recreation use.  The lake remains drained yet today except during wet periods when the Roseau River overflows its banks and re-floods the original lake basin.  Wildlife use of the area fluctuates dramatically with the water levels.  It can be a good area to observe shorebirds and other wetland related wildlife during migration some years.

  Trails - Snowmobiling legal on this WMA.  No groomed trails.

  Roseau River Wildlife Management Area  218-463-1130 or 463-1557 Fax

  27952 400th St.

  Located in NW Roseau County, 8 mi. N of Badger

  * Year round

  Camping - Primitive camping.

  Information - 62,000 acre area with several thousand acres of other public land adjoining. The unit is low and flat, part of the glacial Lake Agassiz lake plain.  The Roseau River flows west for 14 miles through the unit.  3 impoundments totaling 10,600 acres have been constructed.  These wetlands are managed for resident and migratory waterfowl, other wetland wildlife species, public hunting, and other recreational pursuits as well as flood control.  There are 3 sanctuaries totaling 7,000 acres which provide feed, resting, and breeding areas.  This WMA is uniquely large and diverse.  It is home to bird rarities as Horned Grebes, Yellow Rails, Western Grebes, Sandhill Cranes, Black Tern, Great Gray Owls, and nesting Bald Eagles.  Hunting, fishing and birdwatching are popular pursuits on the WMA. Dikes open to hiking and snowmobiling.

  Trails - Snowmobiling legal on WMA outside of sanctuaries.  No groomed trails on the WMA.


  Marshall County Park of Florian    218-478-3658

  Contact: Al Kuck

  10 mi. East of Stephen, MN on Co. Hwy. 6

  * Summer Months

  Camping - Camping, electrical & water hook-ups, showers, flush toilets, dump station.

  Information - Boat launch, fishing, sailing, canoeing, paddle boat rental, swimming, lifeguards,

spiral slide, picnicking, playground, golf, basketball, backboards, volleyball, ball fields, ice fishing, snacks and food stands.

  Trails - Skiing and country snowmobiling, snowshoeing.  2 mile bike trail (walking, roller blading) that is handicapped accessible.



  East Park Dam & Wildlife Area   218-436-2427

  4.5 miles NE of Strandquist.

  Camping - There are eight primitive campsites on this unit.

  Information - 9113 acres.  A 450-acre State Duck Refuge exists on this unit to give waterfowl a place to rest and feed during hunting season. It is off limits to visitors from September 1st to October 31st.  The 1,700 acre Nelson Slough impoundment provides excellent opportunities for viewing wetland species and waterfowl hunting.


Twin Valley

  Neal Wildlife Management Area  218-847-1579

  Contact: Earl Johnson

  5 miles South of Twin Valley to Syre.

  Information - This 1,278 acre unit is an inter-beach area of glacial Lake Agassiz.  The greater

  prairie-chicken uses this area as a booming ground.


  Beltrami Island State Forest  1-800-382-3474 or 218-386-1304

  20 Miles SE of Roseau

  Camping - Camping at Bemis Hill Campground

  Information - 669,000 acres in Roseau, Lake of The Woods & Beltrami Counties.  Canoeing,

fishing, hunting, picnicking and birding.  This is the second largest state forest.  Nearby seasonal blueberry picking at Blueberry Campground near Williams.

  Trails - Hiking, Pine to Prairie Birding trail, horseback riding trails, cross country ski trails, and 138 miles of snowmobile trails. Off-road vehicles (ATVs, etc...) are allowed on all trails unless posted otherwise.

  Lost River State Forest   218-386-1304

  25 mi. S. of Canadian Border on Hwy. 310.

  Information - Wildlife area, fishing, and hunting.  63,000 acres of primitive forest which contains much of the original animal and plant life native to the area.  There are no developed

recreational areas but access is available to some parts by highway and county roads.

  Trails - Snowmobiling, hiking, forest trails.

  Northwest Angle State Forest  218-386-1304

  Near Sprague, Manitoba on Provincial Hwy. #308 to #525. Located on Lake of the Woods.

  Camping - Resorts, camping.

  Information - Boat launch, power boat rental, canoeing, sailing, fishing, historical, Summer Nature Interpretation.  Information can also be found at the NW Angle & Islands Chamber of

Commerce ( or 1-866-NWANGLE).

  Trails - Hiking








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