Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, Brigham City

#4 of 22 in Wildlife in Wasatch Range
Must see · Wildlife Area · Nature / Park
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge is a 74,000-acre (299 km2) National Wildlife Refuge in Utah, established in 1928. The refuge is part of a national system of fee ownership lands purchased from willing sellers, mostly private property owners.

The refuge encompasses the Bear River and its delta where it flows into the northern part of the Great Salt Lake in eastern Box Elder County. It includes a variety of habitats, such as open water, mudflats, wetlands, and uplands. The refuge hosts millions of migratory birds each year including species such as bald eagle and tundra swan. There are more than 41,000 acres (170 km2) of freshwater wetlands. The Refuge is approx. 80,000 acres of Federal and State lands that are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The surrounding lands are occupied by multiple hunting clubs along the bird migration route.

The James V. Hansen Wildlife Education Center features interactive exhibits about the birds and wetlands of the Refuge and a 1/2-mile accessible walking trail a wetland habitat outside. Environmental education programs, symposiums and public events are offered.

There is a one-way 12 mile auto route through the Refuge, with an audio tour and map available for download through the official website.

Starting in 1983, rising floodwaters from the Great Salt Lake severely impacted the refuge. The flooding of the refuge is at the center of Terry Tempest Williams's noted nonfiction book, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place. In 2006, a new wildlife education center off Interstate 15 opened to attract visitors once more.

A visit to Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge represents just the start of the adventure when you use our Brigham City online attractions planner to plot your vacation.
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Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
168 reviews
  • We went in the afternoon and next morning and the morning was much better. It was hot so not as many birds as we hoped but still a beautiful drive with great habitat. Would definitely recommend to...  more »
  • This was a great auto tour. We took many bird and landscape photographs. Highly recommend this if into nature photography.  more »
  • My family and I try to visit here at least once a year. It is so fun to see a bunch of wild birds that you normally wouldn't see in Utah. The visitor center is great to visit and the volunteers are always so helpful. If needed you can borrow a bird guide or even binoculars. They also have a short video you can watch to learn more about the refuge. The driving tour is awesome it is a dirt road but it is well maintained and any vehicle will be fine driving on it. Highly recommend this as a fun trip for the family.
  • If a place could be a soulmate, this is mine. Magical is the only word that comes to mind. The $12 million dollar visitor's center is awesome for kids and quite a remarkable feat (although hours are limited, be sure to check before you visit). After the visitor center, head 12 miles west to the actual refuge where you will find a 12 mile, one-way loop. Some days it is not uncommon to see 35+ species of birds. Nesting season is always fun, but birds are here year round and a visit is always fruitful. I have visited several national refuges and this one is just the very best. A must see.

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