The refuge receives more than 30,000 visitors annually and we look forward to welcoming you. The refuge’s valuable habitat for resident and migratory wildlife is also a great place enjoy Boundary County’s vast natural beauty. There are 5 well-marked trails at the refuge along with the Auto Tour Road (Kootenai NWR Trail Map). Together these areas provide many opportunities to be outdoors. The abundant flora and fauna combined with the stunning Kootenai Valley setting provide a tranquil escape and a wealth of photographic subjects. There are various observation points along the trails and the Auto Tour Road. The refuge also offers a photography blind.
Here are a few of the seasonal highlights to help you plan your visit:
The northward waterfowl migration coincides with the thawing of refuge ponds in late February. Tundra swans, Canada geese, and ducks stop on the refuge to rest and feed while other birds begin their courtship displays. Among the most spectacular displays are snipe “winnowing” and ruffed grouse “drumming.” By late spring, waterfowl, bald eagles, osprey, and songbirds are nesting. Occasionally a visitor may be fortunate enough to see a black bear, a moose or an elk.
By early summer, geese and ducks have hatched. American coots and red-necked and pied-billed grebes can be seen on the ponds. An active bald eagle nest can be observed from the Auto Tour Road. Northern harriers, red-tailed hawks, and American kestrels are commonly seen hunting over refuge fields. Osprey hunt for fish from the air while great blue herons wade in shallow water searching for fish and frogs on refuge ponds. Dippers flit among the rocks in Myrtle Creek.
In the mornings and evenings, beavers, coyotes, mule, and white-tailed deer might be seen. Osprey and shorebirds depart early in the fall, while duck migration peaks in early November. Bald eagles arrive at the same time in search of sick or injured ducks that make an easy meal.
Ponds freeze over by late November and remaining waterfowl move to the ice-free Kootenai River. They continue to feed in refuge grain fields. Bald eagles concentrate around the flocks of ducks. Rough-legged hawks hunt for mice on the uplands.