Coldwater River National Wildlife Refuge is located in northwest Mississippi, 4 1/2 miles south of the town of Crowder. Established in 2000, this refuge consists of 2,374 acres. At the center of the refuge are 24 retired catfish ponds, ranging in size from 12 to 21 acres and totaling 497 acres. These ponds are intensively managed for migrating waterfowl, shorebirds, and wading birds. A majority of the refuge has been reforested in native bottomland hardwood species. Almost all of this forested land is flooded annually during the winter and spring by backwater flooding.
Up to 10,000 migratory waterfowl winter on the refuge, and 34 species of shorebirds have been recorded during the spring and fall migration. Peregrine falcons, least terns, black terns, bald and golden eagles, and wood storks have been observed.
Although it provides critical habitat for wintering waterfowl, this national wildlife refuge receives very little visitation. Most visitors use the refuge during the winter months for waterfowl hunting or viewing. Birders also may stop by the refuge in the spring to view migrating shorebirds.
Due to intensive management, the refuge is critically important as a sanctuary for waterfowl and neotropical migratory birds. For this reason, the refuge is closed to public access except for an observation tower and one waterfowl hunting unit at the north end of the ponds.
The refuge is open to birding and other passive wildlife viewing from sunrise to sunset throughout the year.
Waterfowl hunting is allowed in the refuge's furthest north impoundments with the purchase of a North Mississippi Refuges Complex permit. Permits cost $15 and are available at any Mississippi state hunting license vendor. Refuge hunting and fishing regulations are available at refuge kiosks or online.
Please follow these simple Refuge regulations to help protect the Refuge's natural resources:
- No alcohol
- No littering
- No camping or fires
- No collecting, removing, or damaging and plants, animals, or historic artifacts
This is one of the lesser known refuges for birders. Yet, the observation tower provides a great opportunity to relax and immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the great numbers of waterfowl that make their winter home in the Mississippi Delta. In the spring you may even see roseatte spoonbills, black-necked stilts and other shorebirds and wading birds.
Coldwater River National Wildlife Refuge is open daily from sunrise to sunset throughout the year. The best times to visit are in the morning and late afternoon during the winter and spring seasons. Due to refuge management and the local climate, conditions for wildlife viewing are least favorable during the hot, dry summer.
Hunters please read and keep a copy of our hunting regulations with you while visiting the refuge. The State of Mississippi's hunting seasons are not always the same as the Refuges so be sure to check the brochure.
A $15 North MIssissippi Refuges hunting permit is required for any hunter/angler over the age of 15.
The observation tower has a ramp and handrails providing access to the lower level of the tower.
Pet Friendly Notes
Dogs are allowed for hunting migratory birds during designated seasons only. Dogs must remain in the control of their handlers at all times and should be tagged with the owner's name and contact information. Dogs are not allowed on Refuge properties outside of hunting season.
All other domestic animals are prohibited on the refuge.