Valentine National Wildlife Refuge

Quick Facts

Valentine National Wildlife Refuge


(402) 376-3789

Map Directions

Things To Do



Valentine National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is 71,516 acres in size and located 20 miles south of Valentine, Nebraska along Highway 83 in north-central Nebraska. The Refuge was established in 1935 to protect a portion of the Sandhills and the area wildlife. This region is the largest remaining tract of mid- and tall grass prairie in North America. In 1976, the unique nature of the Sandhills prairie was recognized when the Refuge was designated as a National Natural Landmark. Numerous lakes, marshes, and the tall grasses found on the hills and in the meadows provide habitat for many kinds of wildlife. More than 260 species of birds have been sighted on the Refuge. In early spring, visitors can see prairie chickens and sharp-tailed grouse gather on dancing grounds for their elaborate courtship display. A wide variety of ducks nest on the Refuge in large numbers, and during the fall and spring migrations many species of waterfowl stop to rest and feed. Sometimes as many as 150,000 ducks can be found on the Refuge with peak numbers occurring in May and October.

Many other types of wildlife can be observed at the Refuge including white-tailed deer, mule deer, coyotes, muskrats, and beavers. The Refuge offers many activities for visitors including excellent birdwatching. It is best to early in the morning or just before sunset. Refuge staff maintain trails that are open for hiking. Fishing and upland game, deer, and waterfowl hunting are allowed.

Although the WPAs are open to fishing, fishing opportunities are extremely limited. Many of the wetlands dry frequently enough to keep a fishery from becoming established. Some deeper areas support a limited bullhead and carp fishery.

Map of Valentine NWR

Latitude, Longitude: 42.493365, -100.568161



  • Boating

    The use of internal combustion motors is prohibited on all Refuge lakes. Boats propelled with oars, paddles, or electric motors may be used.

  • Fishing

    On all Refuge fishing lakes, keep only northern pike 28 inches or shorter. All pike longer than 28 inches must be released. All muskies and bass caught on Watts Lake must be released.

  • Hunting

    The entire Refuge is open for a number of hunting opportunities. Including: firearm deer hunting, except the waterfowl hunting area and closed areas shown on the map; archery deer hunting, except for closed areas shown on the map; hunting prairie grouse, pheasants, and doves except for closed areas shown on the map. Hunting ducks, geese, and coots is allowed only on Watts, Rice, and Duck Lakes in the waterfowl hunting area shown on the map. A free permit is required to hunt coyotes on the Refuge. Permits are available from the Refuge Headquarters. The use of dogs for hunting coyotes is not permitted. Steel or other non-toxic shot is required for all bird hunting on the Refuge. Possession of lead shot in the field is prohibited.



Valentine NWR is located about 20 miles south of Valentine, Nebraska, off of U.S. Highway 83. The Refuge headquarters is located off of Highway 83 along the 16B Spur. Directional signs are located along the route.

Phone Numbers


(402) 376-3789