Offering a mix of some of Wisconsin’s finest scenery and wildlife, the Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge allows visitors and their dogs to explore rivers, wetlands and mobile prairies.
Growing up in Wisconsin gave me a deep appreciation for the diversity of this great country. From the majestic blues of the Mississippi River to the idyllic Door County to the rugged shores of Lake Michigan. But so many aspects of Wisconsin’s beauty are gathered in several places as the National Wildlife Refuge in Trempol.
Pet friendly in Wisconsin National Wildlife Refuge Trempealeau
The Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge was originally established in 1936 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. At the time, the 707-acre reserve served as a breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife.
Efforts have been made for years to expand the shelter, but attempts to purchase additional land have failed. Years passed when the Mississippi flooded the refuge with spring melting and turned the backwaters into mud during droughts – cycles needed for plants to thrive in a river habitat.
In 1975, the Dairyland Power Cooperative acquired a large property adjacent to the shelter to build a railroad track near their power plant in Alma, Wisconsin. To complete their project, they will have to go through part of the established shelter, so a land exchange was organized. The result was nearly 5,000 additional acres that became part of the shelter.
Development improves asylum
The construction of the railroad charge (the brown line at the top of the model pictured below) separates the refuge from the currents of the Mississippi River. This has given plants such as reeds, marshes, sago ponds and wild celery the ideal slow-moving aquatic habitat they need to thrive.
These aquatic plants feed on ducks, geese, swans and sandhill cranes as they go through their annual migrations. In fact, about 40% of all waterfowl and coastal birds in North America migrate through the Mississippi fields. And the Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge is their bed and breakfast version.
Visit to the shelter
Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge is located about 35 miles northwest of La Crosse, Wisconsin, on the east bank of the Mississippi River. Driving here gives you the opportunity to enjoy part of the Great River Road, a national scenic road that follows the flow of this mighty river for 3,000 miles through 10 countries.
READ MORE ⇒ Pet Friendly Great River Road from Minneapolis to New Orleans
Pets in the Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge
Pets are welcome to enjoy the parks and trails with you, as long as they are on a leash and cleaned afterwards.
Rules for pets at the National Wildlife Refuge Trempealeau
Pets must be tied up Pet waste must be picked up and disposed of properly Pets are not allowed in the park buildings, including the visitor center.
Visitor center and observation deck
The visitor center, which is open from 07:30 to 16:30, Monday to Friday, is a good place to start your visit. You will get an overview of the park and you can get trail maps and a self-driving brochure for your Prairie’s Edge Tour.
From there it is a short walk down to the observation deck. Check the sightseeing range for close and personal views of the wildlife in the area.
Your next stop will depend on what interests you the most, because there is more to do than you can cover in one day!
The prairie line of the prairie
The first time we visited here with Buster and Ty, we walked part of the Edge Loop Road. This two-wheeled gravel is open to vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians and offers fantastic views of the swamps, forests and prairies that share this unique landscape.
If you are a fan of wildflowers, you will love this trail. The stunning display was truly breathtaking.
The prairies once covered 10% of southern Wisconsin. And the discovery that this restored prairie grows over sand dunes formed by sediments left by the Trempio River was a surprise. As the river changed course, remnants of sand exploded into these moving dunes, which were eventually overtaken by prairie grass and oak trees.
The short prairie trail offers some wonderful benefits to admire the hills and distant river bluffs.
Keep’s Island Dike
Exiting Kiep’s Dike Island to the train charge offers some of the best bird watching in the refuge. And with water on both sides of the trail, the landscape does not disappoint. Follow the signs to the start of the boat and park on the field for this amazing experience.
Depending on the time of year you visit, you will see different species of birds. We saw ospreys, herons, herons, ducks and many songbirds. But our favorites were the young bald eagle and the pelicans!
We noticed the young eagle sitting on a tree on the path.
And then we saw the magnificent American white pelicans – among the largest birds in North America – floating regally past them with their heads held high.
If you are seriously interested in waterfowl photography, check out the photographer’s blind installed by the North American Natural Photography Association. With 10 watch portals you are sure to get great photos!
Both of our visits to the National Wildlife Refuge in Trempileo left us looking forward to going back. During our next visit I would like to see part of the shelter by canoe or kayak!
Going out from Dike Road to Lower Diversion Dike would also be a fun way to see more of the reserve. No matter what you choose, you will surely have a great time with your furry friend from the trip! More information can be found on the asylum website.
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