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Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge

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Trempealeau, Wisconsin

Welcome to Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge, one of Wisconsin's best kept secrets! You are in for some truly exhilarating experiences: marvel as you watch a great blue heron gracefully lift off the water with the Mississippi River's forested bluffs in the background; feel the gentle breeze caress your face as you bike the Refuge's roads. You'll discover that Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge is wetlands...and more!

Refuge for Migratory Birds

Trempealeau NWR was established on August 21, 1936. President Franklin D. Roosevelt set aside 706 acres as "a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife." In May, 1979, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service purchased the former Delta Fish and Fur Farm from Dairyland Power Cooperative, increasing Refuge size to 5,617 acres.

With its strategic location in the Mississippi River migration corridor, the Refuge is an important resting and feeding area for waterfowl and other birds. Spring and fall are the best times of year to view these travelers.

Isolated by the Railroads

In 1857 the first railroad laid its tracks in Trempealeau County. The LaCrosse, Trempealeau and Prescott Railroad (later called the Chicago-Northwestern) first attempted to put its line through what is now the center of the Refuge. When workers were driving pilings for the bridges, they were unable to find a solid bottom. Their initial attempt is now known as Pine Creek Dike. Forced to relocate the construction of the tracks farther north, they created the Refuge's north and northwestern boundaries. This track is no longer in existence, but bicyclers know part of it as the Great River State Trail, maintained by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The southern boundary of Trempealeau NWR is formed by the Burlington-Northern Railroad. It was built in 1886 and separates the Refuge from the Mississippi River. A third railroad, the Green Bay and Western, divides the Refuge into lower and upper sections.

The construction of these three railroad lines and the re-routing of the Trempealeau River in 1911 have made the Refuge a unique, isolated wetland. These dikes have helped prevent pollution and siltation from entering the Refuge from the two rivers.

REFUGE RULES AND REGULATIONS: Protect your Refuge's natural resources and make your visit safe and enjoyable by following these regulations.


Firearms, archery equipment and other types of wildlife harvest equipment are only permitted with possession of a Refuge permit which can be acquired at the headquarters.

Motor Vehicles

Motorized vehicles licensed for highway travel are permitted on roads not posted "Authorized Vehicles Only." Off-road vehicles, including snowmobiles, trail bikes and all terrain vehicles can destroy fragile habitat and are not allowed on any portion of the Refuge.


Collecting mushrooms, nuts and berries for personal use is permitted. Removal of any other plants, animals, artifacts or materials from the Refuge is not permitted.


Spotlighting wildlife on the Refuge is not permitted at any time.

Camping and Fires

Camping or building fires on the Refuge is not allowed. Camping is available in Perrot State Park and other nearby areas.


Dogs and other pets can disturb wildlife; therefore, they must be on a leash and under control while on the Refuge. Horses are not permitted because they can destroy delicate habitat.

Closed Areas

Certain portions of the Refuge may be posted with "Closed Area" signs. These places are sensitive wildlife areas and may not be entered.

TREMPEALEAU ACTIVITIES: Trempealeau NWR is open year round, seven days a week, during daylight hours only. There are a number of activities you can do throughout the year at the Refuge.


Portions of the Refuge may be open to hunting. Special permits are issued annually. Maps showing open areas and details on Refuge hunting programs are available at the headquarters.


Refuge waters are open to public fishing. However, certain sections of the pool may be closed to protect sensitive wildlife areas. A boat launching site with parking facilities is located near Kiep's Island. Only hand powered craft and boats equipped with electric motors can be used. All current Wisconsin State regulations governing inland waters apply. Two popular spots to bank fish are the boat landing area and the Lower Diversion Dike north of Trempealeau Mountain. This Dike can be reached by hiking, biking or by boat via the Trempealeau River. Bullheads are dominant but some northern pike, panfish, and yellow perch are also present. Ice fishing is permitted in season.

Mushroom, Nut and Berry Picking

You can collect mushrooms and wild fruits for personal use on the Refuge.

Wildlife Drive

This five mile drive will acquaint you with the diverse habitats and wildlife of the Refuge, including sand prairie, marsh and hardwood forest communities. The best times for seeing wildlife are early morning and evening hours.


Choose one of our interpretive nature trails that highlight the unique features of the Refuge. Several miles of dikes and service roads closed to public vehicles are also open for hiking. Watch for the signs.


You can ride your bike on all Refuge roads, including some that are closed to public vehicles. Part of the Great River State Trail is on the Wildlife Drive. Biking is not permitted off established roads.

Snowshoeing and Cross-Country Skiing

The entire Refuge is open for these activities in season. We do not groom ski trials on the Refuge, but nearby Perrot State Park has several miles of trails.

Be a Volunteer!

Do you have a special talent or skill you want to share, or do you just like helping out? If so, you should become a Refuge Volunteer! You could collect biological data, perform light maintenance, staff the office or work with school groups. Running a refuge is a big job which calls upon a wide array of skills. If you're interested in volunteering, contact the Refuge. We'd love to hear from you!

The Refuge headquarters, located three miles southwest of Centerville, Wisconsin, is open 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday throughout the year. Refuge visitors are welcome to stop by if they have questions or need assistance. For additional infommation contact:

                           Refuge Manager
                           Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge
                           Rt 1, Box 1602
                           Trempealeau, Wisconsin 54661
                           Telephone (608)539-2311

This resource is based on the following source:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  No date.  Trempealeau National Wildlife 
     Refuge.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Unpaginated.
This resource should be cited as:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  No date.  Trempealeau National Wildlife 
     Refuge.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Unpaginated.  Jamestown, 
     ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.
     (Version 22MAY98).

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