Over the years, I have driven through the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge countless times on the New York State Thruway, always promising to visit one day.

One weekend in late April, I finally made it out there – and it was worth the wait.

Located on the northern end of Cayuga Lake, the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1938. Today, more than  240 different species of birds call the refuge home throughout the year, along with numerous species of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians, according to its website. There is no admission fee.

The refuge’s website recommends visiting during the morning or late afternoon hours – we chose the first option. After a quick stop at the viewing platform outside the visitor center, we headed down Wildlife Drive, a 3.5-mile gravel road that stretches around the refuge’s main pool. Visitors can check out signs and observation areas along the way and listen to the cell phone audio tour. We saw countless birds during our drive – including two bald eagles.

If you want to explore the refuge from outside your car, you can take advantage of one of its walking trails – including the dog-friendly Seneca Trail, which features an observation tower.

All in all, it is definitely worth the trip. Don’t forget to bring a camera and some binoculars!

Please note: Wildlife Drive is open from April 1 – November 30 (depending on weather).

If You Go:

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge
3395 U.S. Route 20, Seneca Falls.
When: Seven days a week from 30 minutes before sunrise – 30 minutes after sunset.
More information: fws.gov/refuge/montezuma.


Courtney Kless is the Editor in Chief of Family Times. Courtney is originally from Maryland. She earned her Master’s degree in Magazine, Newspaper and Online Journalism from Syracuse University. Courtney began her career as a sports journalist, then spent several years working in higher education, before joining the company in August 2019. She enjoys traveling, reading and hiking, and recently adopted a Labrador Retriever, Bailey.

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