Day Trip from Fargo: Tamarac Wildlife Refuge

Tamarac Wildlife Refuge

Tamarac Wildlife Refuge is a hidden gem located in Lakes Country, Minnesota, and is one of my family’s favorite places.

This Wildlife Refuge was established in 1938, with the purpose of serving as a breeding ground sanctuary for birds and other wildlife. The 43,000-acre wildlife refuge is located 18 miles northeast of Detroit Lakes.

It features hiking trails, fishing, a wildlife drive, a visitor center, and so much more. There is no cost for admission, and parking is even free!


Tamarac Wildlife RefugeMy family started going to Tamarac last summer, after my husband discovered it when searching for nearby hiking trails.

We weren’t sure what to expect, but we were honestly blown away by how beautiful Tamarac is. We hiked one of the shorter trails. Since it hadn’t rained recently, we brought our stroller so our kids could come. And we were able to maneuver a double stroller through the trails just fine. (A backpack child-carrier made for hiking probably would have been a better idea, but sometimes you have to make do with what you have!)

One of our favorite trails is the Old Indian Hiking Trail, which is a 2.4 mile loop trail. The views are stunning — think woodlands, clear lakes, rolling hills, and meadows. It’s very quiet and peaceful.

We have also spent time at Tamarac in the wintertime. Last winter, we snowshoed on several of the trails. We did bring our own snowshoes. If the snow is not very deep, you could get by with a good pair of waterproof boots. It’s a fun way to spend some time outside in the winter months."</p

Tamarac hosts more than 250 species of birds, as well as otters, porcupines, wolves, deer, and more. Honestly, I have never seen a wolf while hiking, so don’t let that deter you.  Just know that you are visiting the animal’s wildlife refuge, and it’s important to be respectful of that and be prepared for whatever you may encounter.

Visitor Center

Tamarac has a beautiful visitor center and discovery center that are open year-round. The hours differ on the off-season and holidays.

The centers have educational displays about the animals and history of Tamarac. There is also an impressive gift shop! My kids found all sorts of toys and books they wanted to bring home.

If you have questions about the trails or anything else at Tamarac, stop by the visitor center first. The guides working there are very knowledgeable and have always been able to answer all our questions!

Other Activities

If you don’t feel like hiking but still want to take in some of what Tamarac has to offer, there is a self-guided Wildlife Drive, where you will be able to view a variety of habitats.

Several of the lakes in Tamarac are open for fishing. Some of the species you can expect to find are northern pike, walleye, largemouth bass, and panfish. If you do intend to fish, stop by the Visitor Center to find out exactly what lakes you can fish at, as well as what the regulations are.

I highly recommend checking out Tamarac Wildlife Refuge — this peaceful little area is a perfect respite from the busy summer weekends at the lake!

And for more to do in Lakes Country, see Day Trip from Fargo: Things to Do in Detroit Lakes.
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Anna Wischer
Anna is a Fargo native and currently practices family law. She lives in Fargo with her husband William, Goldendoodle Rory, and two children, Kensington and West. Anna is passionate about building connections in motherhood, because she didn't realize how much she needed other moms around her until she became one herself. In her free time, she enjoys cycling classes, yoga, reading, and the Green Bay Packers (even though they break her heart every year). Anna's guilty pleasures include Bravo reality TV and a good glass of Prosecco.


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