Driftless Area National Wildlife Refuge

Quick Facts

Driftless Area National Wildlife Refuge


(563) 873-3423

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Things To Do



The "driftless area" of the Upper Midwest derives its name from the fact that it was unglaciated during the most recent glacial event about 12,000 years ago. Glaciers surrounded but did not pass over this land.

Driftless Area National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1989 to protect the Federally endangered Iowa Pleistocene snail and threatened northern monkshood plant. Habitats that support these species are also home to other glacial-relict snail and plant species that require specific cool moist conditions to live. These species occur only on algific talus slopes or moist sandstone cliffs. In these fragile places, constant cold air exiting from a cliff or talus slope creates a unique microclimate, one that may be considerably different from areas only meters away.

The refuge is currently 775 acres, consisting of nine units in four counties in northeastern Iowa. When the proposed acquisition is completed, at least 70 percent of the known northern monkshood population and 75 percent of the known population of the Iowa Pleistocene snail will be protected. The ultimate goal is recovery and removal of both species from the Federal list of endangered and threatened species.

Map of Driftless Area NWR

Latitude, Longitude: 43.004773, -91.299391



  • Boating

    Please contact park services for more information.

  • Fishing

    Two units are open to fishing in streams in accordance with State regulations.

  • Hunting

    Two units are open to upland game and white-tailed deer hunting in accordance with State regulations. Non-toxic shot must be used for upland game. Deer hunting is restricted to archery and muzzleloader use only. Stands must be removed at the end of each day's hunt. Certain areas are posted closed to all entry. Hunting is allowed between November 1 and January 15 or the close of the State season, whichever comes first.


Iowa summers are known for heat and humidity, with daytime temperatures often near 90°F and sometimes exceeding 100°F. Spring ushers in the beginning of the severe weather season--thunderstorms and tornadoes are common during the spring and summer months. Average winters in the state have been known to drop well below freezing, even falling below 0°F.



The refuge office is located at the McGregor District of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. The office and visitor contact station are located along Business Hwy 18 North, between the towns of Marquette and McGregor, Iowa.

Phone Numbers


(563) 873-3423