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Minnesota State Parks

Sibley State Park
Sibley State Park lies in a transition zone between two ecosystems; where the Big Woods of the east meet the grasslands of the west. Plants and animals found here are representative of both. The area's lakes were formed about 10,000 years ago as glaciers passed through the state and deposited roc...
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Crane Meadows National Wildlife Refuge
Description: Intersected by the Platte River and Skunk, Rice and Buckman Creeks, these acres of marsh, meadow and open water provide ideal wildlife habitat. There are low-land sedge meadows with willow clumps and red and bur oak that share the savanna with prairie grasses and purple prairie clover. Both Rice and Skunk Lakes have an abundant supply of wild rice that supply a staple food for waterfowl.

Wildlife to Watch: Visit this site in April, May and early June and again in September and October to see and hear sandhill cranes. More than 30 pairs nest in the vicinity and groups, ranging from a few to more than 400, congregate in autumn prior to migration. Look for these graceful birds in the meadows near the headquarters and along the township roads.

In addition, hosts of other birds and rafts of waterfowl reside in the Crane Meadows NWR and Rice-Skunk and Crane Meadows WMAs. Bald eagle, northern harrier, short-eared owl, American bittern, great blue heron, mallard, blue-winged teal and canvasback are among the species you might see. Watch for resident and migrating warblers such as the yellow-rumped, common yellowthroat, American redstart, yellow and black-throated green. House wrens, least flycatchers, great crested flycatchers, tree and chipping sparrows and red-eyed vireos may also be spotted. Look near nesting boxes for eastern bluebirds, American kestrels and wood ducks. Watch for ring-necked pheasants along the roadsides and tree and barn swallows, as well as eastern bluebirds near the headquarters.

Birds are not the only residents. Look for beavers, minks, muskrats, raccoons, river otters and snapping and Standing's turtles near the water. Scan the open fields for white-tailed deer, fox, coyotes and badgers. Don't forget to search for their tracks, scat and burrows too.

Special Tips:  Crane Meadows NWR Birding Checklist

Whooping cranes occasionally use the wetlands in October.

Other Activities: Be sure to investigate the adjacent Skunk & Crane Meadows WMAs.

Ownership: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 
Size: 1825 acres 
Closest Town: Little Falls

ParkingCross Country SkiingHikingSmall Boats

Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing:

Canvasbacks - photo by USFWS
Please use Map Link below

Driving Directions:
From Little Falls, follow state Hwy 10 S approximately 25 mi and prepare for a left lane exit to Co hwy 35 East. Travel approximately 4.5 mi to the Platte River Bridge, after crossing the bridge, take the first left to the Platte River Trailhead and refuge.

Map Link

Crane Meadows National Wildlife Refuge : Wildlife Viewing Area