Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge








U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service






















Printable Map(s) with GPS coordinates




11,521 acres




Big Stone NWR and WMD Admin Bldg and Visitor Contact Station
44843 687th Avenue Co Hwy 19
Odessa, MN 56276
N45 15.597, W96 20.375

West entrance and information kiosk
N45 16.135, W96 24.647




Auto Tour and Refuge Lands Hours
Dawn to dusk for approved activities. Hunting hours follow those set by the Minnesota State hunting regulations, except where noted.




No fee

No National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota charges a fee


Driving Directions

  Area and County  

Get driving directions from Google Maps to this destination from any address, and send those directions to your phone.

          Lac qui Parle County  
          Southwest Minnesota  

Hiking Trails


One-mile self-guided footpath


Auto Tour


Six-mile self-guided auto tour route (open May through September)




Gray Partridge, cottontail rabbit, jack rabbit, gray and fox squirrel, pheasant, turkey, and deer.


Ecological Classification

  Ecological Classification  
  Ecological Province    

Prairie Parkland Province

  Ecological Section    

North Central Glaciated Plains

  Ecological Subsection    

Minnesota River Prairie

  Land Type Association    

Clinton Moraine

Havelock Lake Plain

Milan Alluvial Plain


Native Plant Communities*


Crystalline Bedrock Outcrop (Prairie): Minnesota River Subtype

Dry Hill Prairie (Southern)

Mesic Prairie (Southern)

Wet Prairie (Southern)

  * Source: The Minnesota Biological Survey, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Ecological Resources      

Natural Features







































Five thousand acres, which is almost half of this wildlife refuge, is wetland.




Visitor Photos

Share your photo of this destination.

  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at
Attach one or more photos and, if you like, a caption.





Refuge Entrance

    Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge      






Visitor Videos

Share your video of this destination.

  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at
Attach a video, a YouTube link, or a cloud storage link.


Other Videos
  Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge, Minnesota - Time-lapse June 20th 2012

Published on Jun 20, 2012

First try at time-lapse with Gopro Hero2

2210 photos

8 Meg. Photo taken every 2 seconds

Played back at 24 frames/second

  Big Stone Wildlife Refuge

Uploaded on Apr 25, 2011

I came across this video while cleaning out my hard drive. It was recorded in Aug 2010. Every time I go back home, I make it a point to drive through the Big Stone Wildlife Refuge that is located in Minnesota between Ortonville and Odessa (at the bottom of the bump on western side of the state). The auto tour is about 6 miles long. It may be nothing special to some people, but it is to me for at least 3 reasons. I have edited a little to keep it under 10 min. Soundtrack is provided by Eric Lindell which I happened to be listening to at the time. If you don't like it, it doesn't matter ~ because the driver gets to choose :)




Visitor Sightings

Share your sightings or comments about of this destination.

  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at

Lynn Rubey



  northern leopard frog (Rana pipiens)   northern leopard frog  



American Coot (Fulica americana)

American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)

American Tree Sparrow (Spizelloides arborea)

American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula)

Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)

Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia)

Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina)

Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor)

Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)

Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)

Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus)

Eastern Screech Owl (Megascops asio)

Field Sparrow (Spizella pusilla)

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

Great Egret (Ardea alba)

Green Heron (Butorides virescens)

Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)

Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes)

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius)

Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)

Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)

Northern Waterthrush (Parkesia noveboracensis)

Orchard Oriole (Icterus spurius)

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)

Ring-necked Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)

Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus)

Solitary Sandpiper (Tringa solitaria)

Sora (Porzana carolina)

Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius)

White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)

Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius)

Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)


American White Pelican

Bald Eagle

Caspian Tern

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Lesser Yellowlegs

Northern Harrier

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-winged Blackbird

Yellow-headed Blackbird


Insects and Arachnids


band-winged meadowhawk (Sympetrum semicinctum)

blue dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis)

bronze copper (Lycaena hyllus)

eastern forktail (Ischnura verticalis)

Halloween pennant (Celithemis eponina)

monarch (Danaus plexippus)

northern crescent (Phyciodes cocyta)

painted lady (Vanessa cardui)

simple wave (Scopula junctaria)

widow skimmer (Libellula luctuosa)

yellow-collared scape moth (Cisseps fulvicollis)


bronze copper


northern crescent




American mink (Neovison vison)

American red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)

fox squirrel (Sciurus niger)

Franklin’s ground squirrel (Spermophilus franklinii)

muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus)

thirteen-lined ground squirrel (Ictidomys tridecemlineatus)

whitetail deer (Odocoileus virginianus)


American mink

Franklin’s ground squirrel




brittle prickly pear (Opuntia fragilis)

eastern purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

prairie onion (Allium stellatum)

  brittle prickly pear  


  common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina)   common snapping turtle  


9/29/2000   8/27/2004            



One amphibian species with conservation status in Minnesota has been seen here:

Special Concern

mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus)




Fifteen bird species with conservation status in Minnesota have been seen here:


Henslow’s Sparrow (Centronyx henslowii)

Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus)

King Rail (Rallus elegans)

Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus)


Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)

Wilson’s Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor)

Special Concern

American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)

Forster’s Tern (Sterna forsteri)

Franklin’s Gull (Leucophaeus pipixcan)

Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus)

Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa)

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)

Purple Martin (Progne subis)

Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)

Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus)


Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas Birds List

Minnesota River Valley Birding Trail

eBird Field Checklist (Odessa Overlook)

eBird Field Checklist (Kaercher Peninsula)

eBird Field Checklist (Granite Outcrop Trails)

eBird Field Checklist (East Pool)

eBird Field Checklist (west side of East Pool)

eBird Field Checklist (east side of East Pool)

eBird Field Checklist (Low Flow Area)

eBird Field Checklist (Auto Tour Road)

eBird Field Checklist (Complete)


American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)

Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)

Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)

Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus)

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

Great Egret (Ardea alba)

  Brown-headed Cowbird  



Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas Fishes List


Fungi and Lichens


Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas Fungi List

Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas Lichens List


Insects and Arachnids


Three insect and arachnid species with conservation status in Minnesota have been seen here:


Dakota skipper (Hesperia dacotae)

Poweshiek skipperling (Oarisma poweshiek)

Special Concern

Iowa skipper (Atrytone arogos iowa)


Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas Insects List


dingy cutworm moth (Feltia jaculifera)

goldenrod soldier beetle (Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus)

  dingy cutworm moth  



Six mammal species with conservation status in Minnesota are found here:


eastern spotted skunk (Spilogale putorius)

Special Concern

big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus)

moose (Alces americanus)

northern grasshopper mouse (Onychomys leucogaster)

prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster)

Richardson’s ground squirrel (Spermophilus richardsonii)


Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas Mammals List




Eight plant species with conservation status in Minnesota are found here:


ball cactus (Escobaria vivipara var. vivipara)


disk water-hyssop (Bacopa rotundifolia)

two-headed water starwort (Callitriche heterophylla var. heterophylla)

Special Concern

cut-leaf ironplant (Xanthisma spinulosum var. spinulosum)

Oregon woodsia (Woodsia oregana ssp. cathcartiana)

prairie moonwort (Botrychium campestre)

three-stamened waterwort (Elatine triandra)

water mudwort (Limosella aquatica)


Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas and Minnesota Biological Survey Vegetation Releves Plant List


Plants frequently found in:

Crystalline Bedrock Outcrop (Prairie): Minnesota River Subtype ROs12a1

Dry Hill Prairie (Southern) UPs13d

Mesic Prairie (Southern) UPs23a

Wet Prairie (Southern) WPs54b


common mullein

prairie onion




Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas Amphibians and Reptiles List





























































Refuge for Birds

Black-crowned Night Heron, Double-crested Cormorant, Hooded Merganser, Western Grebe, and many other species of waterfowl are summer residents. This is one of the few locations in Minnesota that the Snowy Egret is known to breed.































Refuge for Mammals

Forty-one mammal species have been documented on this refuge.






Refuge for Plants

The only population of ball cactus in Minnesota is maintained in this refuge.



Last Updated:

© All rights reserved.

About Us

Privacy Policy

Contact Us