One of the best things about La Crosse is its proximity to the Great River Road – a historic 3,000-mile route along the Mississippi River. The Great River Road offers some of the best birdwatching in the country along the Mississippi Flyway, including at places like Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge and the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge.
With such easy access to the Mississippi River, there are plenty of places to enjoy a quiet afternoon of birdwatching in La Crosse. Aside from some of our local parks, Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge is one of our favorite birding hotspots, and it’s within easy driving distance of our La Crosse Bed and Breakfast. These pristine, protected habitats on the backwaters of the Mississippi River offer exceptional bird and wildlife viewing each fall.
Regardless of how avid of a birdwatcher you are, a trip to Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge is worth it, especially in the fall. The birds and wildlife are fun to see, and the fall colors contrasting against the river are spectacular. While you’re enjoying a fantastic fall getaway in La Crosse, elevate your getaway with a stay at our upscale La Crosse Bed and Breakfast.
We offer a unique lodging experience in an immaculate, historic castle – a truly one-of-a-kind lodging experience. We’re more than a beautiful old house, though. We also offer exceptional hospitality and a truly memorable stay. Book your room at our La Crosse Bed and Breakfast today!
Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge
Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge is situated on the quiet, isolated backwaters of the Mississippi River on the western edge of Wisconsin, about 45 minutes north of our La Crosse Bed and Breakfast. This 6,800+ acre refuge was established in 1936 and offers some of the most pristine and, like other refuges in the area, provides pristine and protected habitats for birds and wildlife migrating through this area.
Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge is located on the Mississippi Flyway, which stretches from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. At least 325 species of birds make the annual migration from their breeding grounds in Canada to their wintering grounds in the Gulf. One of the best places to witness this yearly migration is right here in La Crosse and at birding hotspots like Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge.
The Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge features various habitats and has diverse bird and wildlife inhabitants. Here, you’ll find protected prairies, bottomland forests, and wetlands, all of which provide vital resting and feeding grounds for birds as they move through the area. Fall is one of the best times to witness the annual bird migration, as species like Monarch Butterflies and other migratory birds move through the area in their fertile winter feeding grounds.
Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge is home to one of the largest colonies of black terns in Wisconsin. Their distinctive plumage, black heads, and dark grey wings are a delight to birdwatchers every year. Other bird species typical to Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge include sandhill cranes, warblers and other songbirds, and various waterfowl. In the winter, Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge is a great place to spot raptors, such as bald eagles.
Beyond just being a fantastic destination for bird and wildlife viewing, Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge is also an exceptional spot to unplug for the day and admire Mother Nature at its finest. You can visit the Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge by foot, bike, or car, and it’s free to visit.
Plenty of great trails throughout the refuge, and an observation deck will allow you to admire the beauty of the refuge and its inhabitants. The Great River State Bike Trail also passes through the refuge, making it a great place to stop and take a break before continuing.
More Exceptional Birdwatching on the Great River Road
Whether from land or while paddling on the river, there is some truly exceptional bird and wildlife viewing in the La Crosse area. Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge is just the beginning! There are plenty more fantastic places near La Crosse on the Great River Road worth visiting, and we’ve listed a few of our favorites below.
- The Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge is one of the country’s largest wildlife refuges and is home to some truly extraordinary opportunities for birdwatching and wildlife viewing. It’s a fantastic place to view Tundra swans in the winter and up to 250 species of raptors, songbirds, and waterfowl.
- Goose Island County Park is a great place to spot raptors, waterfowl, and songbirds. It’s particularly well known for the Prothonotary Warbler that migrates through this area.
- Various birds move through the Norskedalen Nature & Heritage Center each year, including species like the Black-billed Cuckoo and White-eyed Vireo.
- The bluffs of the Hixon Forest also offer exceptional birdwatching opportunities, including for species like Great Egrets, terns, Pileated Woodpeckers, and raptors.
- Like the Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge, the Van Loon State Wildlife Area offers excellent birdwatching. It’s especially notable for species like native woodpeckers, Bald Eagle, Red-Shouldered Hawks, and Indigo Bunting.
These are just a few of the extraordinary places for birdwatching in the La Crosse Region, no matter the time of year. And this is just one of the many things to do in La Crosse, Wisconsin! Enjoy the best of fall with us this year, and book a room at our La Crosse Bed and Breakfast today.