"Up Close & Personal With Nature" Top 5 Page for this destination Minnesota Things to Do Tip by DueSer
Minnesota Things to Do: 133 reviews and 150 photos
The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge is an awfully long name for something so simple and so beautiful. Basically, on the edge of town there is a river and all along that river they have hiking trails. Simple enough.
What that short description doesn't reveal is how beautiful this place can be, especially early in the morning. You're in the center of a bustling metropolis and yet, you'd never know it.
The visitors center is the starting point, especially if you've never been before. Here you can get maps and wildlife information, use the bathrooms and get an overview of the area. From the view up there, you are bound to get anxious to get going down to the trail but if you stay, have a seat, and get comfortable, even though you're indoors, you'll have an amazing experience with nature. One entire wall of the center is made of tinted glass and there are couches along there. Sit down and you're just a couple feet away from several bird feeders. The tinted glass allows you to be out of sight for the birds. They come in droves - robins, cardinals, goldfinch, red-winged blackbirds, bluebirds, woodpeckers, wild turkeys, and more. There's also squirrels, badgers, beavers...if you sit there long enough, you'll be amazed at what might show up for a bite to eat.
This visitors center is also terrific in that it allows the disabled, who might not normally be able to make it down the steps and incline to the river trail, the chance to see nature close up.
There's also a ranger to answer questions for you.
Down on the trail itself you are alone with wildflowers, trees, birds, and a number of other animals - deer, raccoons, frogs, rabbits, turtles, butterflies, fox...the list is long and exciting.
There are a number of different trail options depending on how long you want to spend but after a few minutes here you may find yourself having trouble ever thinking about leaving.
The center and trails are free and so is the parking. The center is open 9-5 every day but Mondays most of the year. In the colder months, check with the center for their hours. Pets are allowed if they are on a leash.
Address: 3815 American Blvd East, Bloomington, MN 55425
Directions: Just off the 494 by the airport and the Hilton Hotel.
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