Union Slough National Wildlife Refuge

Fish and Wildlife Service, Iowa.

Located in north-central Iowa in the southeast corner of the Prairie Pothole Region, Union Slough is all that remains of a pre-glacial riverbed. Actually, the area is a connection point, or union, between two watersheds - the Blue Earth River of Minnesota and the east fork of the Des Moines River. Before European settlement, the area was so level that the wind determined which way the slough flowed. Established in 1938 as a migratory waterfowl refuge, Union Slough National Wildlife Refuge provides critical habitat for native prairie and wetland wildlife in a landscape dominated by intensive agriculture. The refuge contains a diverse mix of habitats including marsh, prairie and river bottomland. Together, these areas total 3,334 acres that follow a seven mile stretch of Union Slough and a portion of bottomland along Buffalo Creek. The habitats of the refuge function as a regionally significant nesting and stopover site for migratory waterfowl and other migratory birds and support unique assemblages of resident plants and wildlife. 

Nearby Activities


Union Slough Refuge is roughly 2.5 hours southwest of Minneapolis and northwest of Des Moines. From Algona, take Highway 169 north to Bancroft; turn right (east) on county road A-42, and proceed six miles to the office at 1710 360th St. From Interstate 90; take the Blue Earth, MN, exit and follow Rt. 169 south into Iowa. At Lakota, follow P60 south to A42, then west 0.5 miles on A42 to the office.

Additional Information