Twin Cities Business Listing

3815 American Blvd. East Bloomington, MN 55425 US, Refuge Headquarters and Bloomington Education and Visitor Center
15865 Rapids Lake Road Carver, MN 55315, Rapids Lake Education and Visitor Center
Admission: $0.00
Scroll down to find a link to upcoming events and activities
Hours of Operation:
Mon. 05:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Tue. 05:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Wed. 05:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Thu. 05:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Fri. 05:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Sat. 05:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Sun. 05:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Showing park and trail hours. Scroll down for information on building hours.

The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge (“MVNWR”) is an extensive system comprised of multiple units stretching almost 70 miles along the Minnesota River Valley from Bloomington to Henderson. There are actually two visitor centers, one located in Bloomington near the Minneapolis-St Paul Airport and the other in Carver, Minnesota. We feature the Bloomington hours on our web listing. The MVNWR was established in 1976 to provide habitat for migratory birds, fish and other threatened species affected by commercial development. It also educates the public and provides space for recreation.

Articles Related to the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center

Visitor Center Hours

Both visitor centers are closed on all federal holidays and may experience closures due to weather and other reasons. Hours are subject to change, so we recommend calling or checking their website in advance of your visit. As of February 2024 hours are:

  • Bloomington: Thursdays through Sundays 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.
  • Carver: Seasonal. Memorial Day – Labor Day

Kid-friendly activities at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center

The center suggests the following activities for families with kids:

  • Check out a “Let’s Go Outside” backpack. Like many other area nature centers, MVNWR loans backpacks filled with fun tools to try while visiting. The pack contains items like bug jars, binoculars and a magnifying lens. Borrow the pack from the front desk.
  • Become a Junior Refuge Manager! Kids can earn a badge and certificate by learning about the plants, birds, bugs and other critters living on the refuge. Families can either download the activity booklet or pick up a copy at either visitor center. Fill out the booklet to become a Junior Refuge Manager!
  • Nature journals & scavenger hunts. MVNWR shares links on their site to journaling and animal-tracking activities. Or you can pick up printed versions at the visitor centers.
  • Snowshoe, bike or hike the refuge. Explore wildlife refuge in every season. Once the area has accumulated six inches of snow, both visitor centers loan snowshoes for free.

There are also a number of interesting indoor exhibits at the Bloomington visitor center, an observation deck (pictured with FFTC Team Kids), a film to watch, art gallery and nature gift shop.

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Nature Play Area 

A new nature play area has recently opened near the Old Cedar Avenue Bridge trailhead. It’s fairly rustic with mostly opportunities to construct habitats and shelters with large sticks. There are many large log benches for parents to rest on while kids engage in free play. The surrounding trails are crushed rock and fairly easy to traverse. And if your family is into biking, a lovely paved trail spans the historic bridge and goes on to connect with more paths along the river valley.

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