Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge

Quick Facts

Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge


(573) 876-1826

Map Directions

Things To Do


Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge is located on 6 units, in various counties, along the Missouri River in the state of Missouri. The majority of the 4,500 acres that make up Big Muddy NFWR are located in the floodplain of the river. The Refuge was established in 1994 and got its name from the nickname given to the silt laden Missouri River.The Missouri River and its floodplain have undergone dramatic changes in the 190 years following Lewis and Clark's epic journey of 1804-1806. The pre-development river was a vast complex of chutes, sloughs, backwaters, sandbars, braided channels, bottomland forests, wet prairie grasslands and seasonal and permanent wetlands resulting in dynamic conditions producing a diversity of riverine and floodplain habitats. The lower Missouri River has since experienced huge reductions in riverine habitats and concurrent declines in fish and wildlife populations. Hydrology was altered and the floodplain isolated from the River through construction of levees and flood control structures. The results were over 90 percent of the floodplain forests, wetlands and prairies being converted to agricultural lands. With the establishment and future acquisitions of the Big Muddy NFWR, the goal is to restore approximately 8 percent of the riverine habitat losses along the lower Missouri River. Some of the migratory birds that will benefit from the establishment and continued acquisitions of the Big Muddy NFWR include: waterfowl, wading birds, shorebirds and neotropical migrants. Endangered species that are likely to occur on the Refuge are pallid sturgeon, decurrent false aster, bald eagle, piping plover, least tern, peregrine falcon, gray bat and Indiana bat.

Map of Big Muddy Nat'l Fish & Wildlife Refuge

Latitude, Longitude: 38.912942, -92.278118



  • Boating

    Boating and fishing and is allowed year round and is subject to all applicable state and federal laws. Take your boat out on the Missouri River.

  • Fishing

    Fishing and is allowed year round and is subject to all applicable state and federal laws. The types of fish you find will depend on your location in the refuge. Blue Catfish, White Bass, Skipjack Herring, Mooneyes, River Darters and Freshwater Drums all live in the refuge and are fishable.

  • Hunting

    Hunting is permitted in accordance with State of Missouri seasons. The area for migratory bird hunting, upland game hunting, and big game hunting. Hunting is subject to all applicable state and federal laws. Be aware that some portions of the refuge are open for archery hunting only. Some of the popular hunting that occurs in the refuge is deer, wild turkey and goose.

  • Wildlife Watching

    The Big Muddy National FIsh and Wildlife Refuge is an amazing location for bird watching and wildlife viewing. Some of the more abundant wildlife in the park that can be spotted includes the pearl crescent butterfly, spotted salamander, three toed Box turtle, wild turkey, wood duck, great blue heron, northern cardinal, white-tailed deer and bald eagle. The refuge is home to hundreds of different species and offers a comprehensive guide on the their website. Birds come and leave the park seasonally so be sure to check their migrations.


Big Muddy NWR lies in a Continental climate zone with warm-hot, humid summers (70's-90's degrees F) and colder, damper winter conditions (30's-50's degrees F). Layering is encouraged.

Park Partners



Office Headquarters To reach the refuge headquarters in Southeast Columbia, Missouri, take the AC exit off Highway 63; turn east onto New Haven Road. Travel one mile to USGS Columbia Environmental Research Center. The refuge office is located down the third driveway on the right off New Haven Rd.


The closest major airport to Big Muddy NWR would be Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, approximately 109 miles away. From there, myriad car rental services are available, ranging from Alamo to National and beyond.

Public Transportation

Columbia Transit and Paratransit offers reliable public transportation routes throughout the area.

Phone Numbers


(573) 876-1826


(573) 876-1826

Road conditions

(573) 876-1826


(573) 876-1826

Lost & found

(573) 876-1826

Campground reservations

(573) 876-1826