Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuge

Quick Facts

Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuge


(218) 847-4431

Map Directions

Things To Do



Eastern forest dramatically gives way to the western prairie at Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuge. Hardwood forests stretching from the Atlantic seaboard rapidly shift to the vast western prairie at this picturesque refuge. Prior to settlement this diverse vegetation was attractive to wildlife and the area teemed with waterfowl, upland birds, bison, wolves, and other prairie wildlife. When fully restored, the refuge will provide the largest contiguous block of wetland prairie habitat in the region, encompassing nearly 6,000 acres. The station's objective is to restore 3,000 acres of wetlands and 2,250 acres of upland grass. This will provide resting and nesting cover for 219 species of migratory and nesting birds. Currently, many species of waterfowl, shorebirds, neotropical migratory songbirds, and birds of prey rely on the shallow water and prairie habitat that has been restored on the refuge.

During the last six years, refuge habitat restorations have resulted in a dramatic increase in waterfowl, shorebird and prairie songbird populations. This has generated opportunities for wildlife-dependent recreation and serves as an educational model for land and watershed stewardship. Approximately 50% of the private property within the refuge's future boundary has been acquired from willing sellers.

Map of Hamden Slough NWR

Latitude, Longitude: 46.930572, -95.975876



  • Bird Watching

    A "hot spot" for bird watchers, uncommon species like Le Conte's sparrow, common moorhen, American avocet, marsh wren, sedge wren, and red-necked grebe are nesting on the refuge and are routinely seen.

    In just the last three years, 13 previously unrecorded bird species have been confirmed as nesting on Hamden Slough refuge. These include: Virginia rail, dickcissel, semi-palmated sandpiper, American bittern, prairie chickens, Wilson's phalarope, and gadwall.

    The refuge impoundments are managed in May and June for migrating and nesting shorebirds and waterfowl. This has resulted in an increased abundance of previously rare species such as godwits, dowitchers, dunlins, and many other "life list" species.

    The numbers of public visitors surge in May and June, with many wildlife viewers checking Bisson Lake and the "frog pond," on the north end of the refuge, and the office wetland complex on the south end. Neotropical nesters and migrants are also most easily observed from mid-May through mid-June. The abundance of refuge wildlife attracts avian predators, including bald eagles, harriers, falcons, hawks, kestrels, and merlins.

  • Hiking

    The Hesby Memorial Outlook with walkway is located .5 miles east of the refuge office.

  • Wildlife Watching

    Excellent wildlife viewing is available at the intersection of County Roads #13 and #14, Bisson Lake, during May and June. Waterfowl migration peaks between late April and early May. Shorebird and prairie songbird numbers peak from middle- to late-May. Bird watchers have observed as many as 78 species within 400 yards of the office. The Hesby Memorial Overlook with walkway is 0.5 miles east of the refuge office.


The refuge is beautiful year-round, but the number of park visitors surges in May and June with the increase in migrating and nesting shorebirds, waterfowl, and accompanying predator species.

Park Partners

Friends of the Detroit Lakes WMD



The refuge is located northeast of Audubon, Minnesota. Visitors can get to the information kiosk by following the brown and white refuge signs on state, county, and township roads. The best route from U.S. Hwy. 10 at Audubon is north on County Road 13 to downtown Audubon. Proceed east on County Road #104 for 1.3 miles, then north on County Road 104 for 0.75 miles to the south end of the refuge. Follow refuge signs and proceed 0.25 miles northwest on Township Road 440 to the refuge kiosk.

The north portion of the refuge can be observed by following County Highway 14 west from U.S. Highway 59 just north of Callaway, Minnesota. County Highway 13 travels south off of County Highway 14 and provides visitors an opportunity to view the prairie wetland landscapes and wildlife of the refuge.

The refuge headquarters is located within the Detroit Lakes Wetland Management District office. The office is located 2 miles north of Detroit Lakes, MN, via U.S. Highway 59, then 1.5 miles east on County Road 131/North Tower Road.

Phone Numbers


(218) 847-4431