Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Bloomington

4.2
#2 of 6 in Parks in Bloomington
Wildlife Area · Hidden Gem · Nature / Park
The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge is a 14,000-acre (5,666 ha) National Wildlife Refuge in eastern and central Minnesota. Located just south of the city of Minneapolis, it is one of fourteen Regional Priority Urban Wildlife Refuges in the nation. Many parts of the Refuge are near large establishments of the Twin Cities; the Bloomington Education and Visitor Center and two trailheads are located just blocks from the Mall of America, the Wilkie Unit is just east of Valleyfair and the Louisville Swamp Unit is just south of Minnesota Renaissance Festival.

The Refuge stretches southwest through Minneapolis’ outer-ring suburbs to Henderson, Minnesota. There are eleven refuge units strung along 70 miles (110 km) of the Minnesota River. The various Refuge units are interspersed with units of the Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area. Although the National Wildlife Refuge is managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the state recreation area by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, both agencies share a consistent signage to simplify visitation.

The Refuge has two visitor centers:

The Bloomington Education and Visitor Center is at 3815 American Boulevard East in Bloomington, MN and is part of the Long Meadow Lake Unit. There are two hiking trails that can be accessed from the visitor center and many exhibits to explore. The visitor center is open Tuesday-Sunday, 9AM-5PM during the summer season and Tuesday-Saturday, 9AM-4PM during the winter season.

The Rapids Lake Education and Visitor Center is at 15865 Rapids Lake Road in Carver, MN and is part of the Rapids Lake Unit. There are two hiking trails that can be accessed from the visitor center and short hikes will lead to rewarding views of the Minnesota River and the Carver Rapids. The visitor center is open Tuesday-Friday, 9AM-4PM, but please call ahead to confirm that the facility is open, as staff may be leading school programs or other outreach events off-site.

While the facilities may be closed certain days of the week, the Refuge's trails are open sunrise to sunset and are open year round. The Refuge does not groom trails during the winter season.

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Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
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TripAdvisor
  • This federal wildlife reserve is bear bones. The Reserve consists of three sections of land - two on the north side of the Minnesota river and one on the south side of it. You can use a pedestrian...  more »
  • Really enjoyed the collection of exhibits and animals! Nice place to spend a day and relax! Hope to visit more often in the future!  more »
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