Tamarac – Winter on the Refuge


Don’t let the winter blues get you down, come out and enjoy Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge. Winter can bring some of the best wildlife watching. With leaves off the trees you can see deeper into the forest and the snow pack absorbs sound making listening for wildlife crisp and clear. Each fresh snowfall creates new opportunities to explore the tracks left by the wild travelers of the refuge. Explore on cross-country skis, snow shoes, boots or just take a drive.

Refuge Trails: Much of the refuge is open to hiking, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing through the winter. The Sanctuary area in the northern portion of the refuge is open to the public September 1st through the end of February. Since there is no vehicle traffic on these access roads, it’s a great place to investigate by foot, ski or snowshoe. The Old Indian Hiking Trail off Hwy 29 is a 2 mile loop trail that will take you deep into the old growth Oak, Maple and Pine forests. You may also want to explore the North Country Trail. Traps and snares are used on the refuge for wildlife management purposes so it’s best to keep pets on leash.

Wildlife Watching: The refuge is bisected by County Hwy 26, Hwy 29, Hwy 143 and Hwy 35. These highways are maintained by the county highway department and can be traveled throughout the winter. Bruce Blvd/Service Road is maintained by refuge staff and is also accessible by car through the winter months. These roads will take you through a great deal of the refuge for watching wildlife in your warm car. The Blackbird Wildlife Drive closes December 15 and re-opens April 15 (spring melt permitting). Restrooms are located at the Chippewa Picnic Area and the Pine Lake Parking Area.

Pine Lake Ski Trail: This cross-country ski trail has two loops. The two mile loop will take you through a field, among the oak-maple forest and along the shores of Tamarac Lake. The Pine Lake loop is nearly 6 miles and will guide you around Pine Lake with spectacular views. Both trails are generally even terrain with a few short hills to keep your trek interesting. Parking is available at the trail head along County Hwy 29 about 3 miles south of the visitor center.

Winter Fishing: Ice fishing is allowed on North Tamarac, Two Island, Wauboose and Pine Lakes. Access to these lakes are minimally maintained. Vehicles are not permitted on the ice. Please note that ice shelters may not be left overnight.

Snowmobiles & ATV’s are not allowed on the refuge. 

For more information on these events:

  • Contact refuge staff at 218-847-2641.
  • For refuge information, contact the refuge at 218-847-2641 or visit http://www.fws.gov/refuge/tamarac.
  • The Visitor Center is open Monday- Friday 8:00 – 4:00 and every 1st and 3rd Sunday from 10:00-5:00.

Movies and Activities

Sunday January 15, 2:00 PM
Movie: Christmas in Yellowstone

Celebrate the beauty and wonder of the season in one of the most extraordinary places on earth. Observe red foxes diving for rodents, a grizzly and her newly born cubs and follow the trail of writer Tom Murphy, who has been coming to Yellowstone for past 26 winters. Capture winter in the wilderness of Yellowstone. 50 min.

Sunday Feb 5, 2:00 PM
Movie: Polar Bear Feast

Every year, up to 80 polar bears gather on the frozen shore of Barter Island near the village of Kaktovik, AK to feast on the hunter-harvested bowhead whale remains. Because polar bears are solitary predators, this is highly unusual.The village, locked in by sea ice for 9 months of the year, becomes the center of polar bear studies and wildlife photographers. 55 min.

Sunday February 19 2:00 PM
Movie: Wolverines-Chasing the Phantom

This film will take you into the secretive world of the largest and least known member of the weasel family to reveal who this dynamic little devil truly is. Hard-wired to endure an environment of scarcity, the wolverine is one of the most efficient and resourceful carnivores on Earth. 55 min.

Saturday February 25, 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
Animal Tracking Workshop

Don’t miss this great opportunity! You may not always see wildlife, but they leave plenty behind. Join Dr. Steve Dahlberg for a day of discovering and interpreting animal tracks. There are some wild stories out there! We will be both indoors and outdoors. Dress for the weather; bring water and a sack lunch. Meet at the Discovery Center. Please sign up for this free workshop by calling 218-844-1756 by February 22.

Sunday March 5 Snowshoe Hike – 1:00 pm

Explore the winter woods on snow shoes. We’ll identify wildlife tracks, watch for porcupine and look for snow fleas. Dress warm and meet at the Visitor Center for this one mile trek through the woods on the Bear Paw Spur Trail. Bring your own or borrow a set. Only a few adult snow shoes are available, lots of kid’s sizes. This hike is co-hosted with the Laurentian Lakes Chapter of the North Country National Scenic Trail.

Sunday March 5 2:00 PM
Movie: Life of a Twig Eater 

There is a growing problem in North America affecting moose, the largest species of the deer family. Whether they make their home in the Canadian Rockies or in Minnesota, moose populations are declining at a rapid rate.One reason is that many of the newborn calves are not surviving their first year. In order to find out why, one intrepid cameraman spends a year documenting the life of a moose calf and its mother to understand what it takes to survive. 50 min.

Sunday March 19, 2:00 PM
Movie: American Experience, Ansel Adams

Perhaps none has had a more profound impact on how Americans grasp the majesty of their continent, or done more to transform how people think and feel about the meaning of the natural world. This film is an intimate portrait of a great artist and ardent environmentalist. 100 min.

Sunday April 2, 2:00 PM
Movie: Wild Ways

Four lane highways are a necessity to our society, but they can be a death trap for millions of animals that try to cross them. From Yellowstone to the Yukon, to Southern Africa’s elephant highways, explore how newly established wildlife corridors may offer a glimmer of hope to endangered species. 55 min.

Sunday April 16, 2:00 PM
Movie: Great Plains- America’s Lingering Wild

Featuring brilliant and stunning imagery, this film showcases the heart of our continent, from the Missouri Coteau of North Dakota to Texas’ playa wetlands and the herds of elk and pronghorn that roam the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge in Montana. Discover what wilderness remains and meet the dedicated people working to keep it alive. 55 min.

Click here: Winter Flyer

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