|Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge|
As with other sites in the Niobrara River Valley corridor, Fort Niobrara NWR is a place where different ecosystems meet. The sited offers excellent wildlife and habitat diversity, combining pine forest, eastern deciduous forest, boreal (northern) forest, sandhills prairie, and mixed-grass prairies.
Valentine National Wildlife Refuge
|Description: In the heart of the dry, rolling dunes of the sandhills prairie, Valentine National Wildlife Refuge is a oasis, mixing lakes, marshes, and grasslands.|
Wildlife to Watch: Valentine Refuge is a migration stopover for as many as 150,000 ducks and a nesting site for blue-winged teal, mallards, pintails, gadwalls, and even diving ducks such as redheads and ruddy ducks. More than 260 species of birds (93 breeding species) have been sighted on the refuge, including herons, black terns, pelicans, and many songbirds. Long-billed curlews and upland sandpipers call from hill and fence post. In spring, prairie chickens and sharp-tailed grouse gather for their elaborate courtship displays. Bald eagles and golden eagles are present in winter. White-tailed deer prefer the marshes and wooded lake margins; look for mule deer in the open hills. Other species include muskrats, coyotes, minks, raccoons, skunks, and weasels.
Special Tips: Wet weather or snow may limit driving. Information kiosks are located along the highway at both the north and south entrances.
Other Activities: There are viewing opportunities while driving roads within Valentine NWR and many more while walking.
From U.S. Highway 83 north of the subheadquarters, you can park along the road near one of the refuge gates (pull completely off the highway) and take a short hike through the hills or along the wetlands. For a dramatic view of the Sandhills, drive to the refuge headquarters and take the next paved road south. Go about a half-mile and park at the start of the trail leading up to the old fire tower. The base of the tower (a half-hour hike) offers spectacular views of sandhills prairie, lakes, and marshes. In spring, observation blinds are set up to view the courtship displays of sharp-tailed grouse and prairie chickens.
Ownership: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Size: 71,561 acres
Closest Town: Valentine
Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing: