Destination Prairie: Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge

  • Updated: September 26, 2013 - 3:51 PM

Our correspondent picks his favorite refuge.

Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge

39650 Sand Lake Drive

Columbia, S.D.

Call Sand Lake’s 24-hour waterfowl migration hot line: 1-605-885-6401

The 21,500-acre Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge, about 25 miles northeast of Aberdeen, S.D., is a popular destination for wildlife watchers and birders, particularly during the spring and fall migrations.

Over the years, the refuge has won numerous awards and special designations. Sand Lake was named one of the top 15 birding sites in North America by WildBird magazine. In 1998, the refuge was designated a Wetland of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

Depending on the weather, the waterfowl migration peaks the first week of November, with tens of thousands of mallards and snow geese found on the refuge and in surrounding wetlands. Before the peak, numerous other duck species and other water birds can be found.

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