Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge
If you’ve never been to one of our state’s National Wildlife Refuges (Minnesota has an impressive 22 of them, six of which are within 85 miles of the Twin Cities), now is the time. Sherburne NWR is less than an hour northwest of the Twin Cities near Zimmerman and offers an abundance of wildlife photo opportunities.
Less developed than a state or national park, Sherburne is primarily a wildlife habitat, with some areas being closed March through August to let wildlife breed and raise their young without bothersome humans around. The wildlife drive, a 7.3 mile loop, is open year round and you can see an impressive amount of wildlife, much of which can be seen without venturing far from your vehicle.
In a recent visit we were treated to sightings of songbirds, sandhill cranes, loons, swans, cormorants, and great blue herons. Riots of lupine in purples, blues and pinks, spread across parts of the landscape in June. Prairie smoke, wild columbine and buttercups can also be found. Near the forested areas the dragon and damselflies were easily seen gathering up gnats and other smaller insects. Sandhill cranes also call this refuge home and converge by the thousands in October, while a few hang around in the summer, too. Approximately 11,000 individuals will roost here before their migration south to Florida and there are about 36 breeding pairs on the refuge each year.
For more information, check out this link to their brochure: https://www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/RefugeMap(2).pdf