Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge is a 27,000-acre plot of land that runs along the Green River in Wyoming. Like all National Wildlife Refuges, it was established to protect and preserve the habitats of the local critters, but Seedskadee is a bit different than the other 555 refuges across the United States. It's the home of two National Historic Trails (the Oregon and Mormon Trails) and visitors can explore the lands at their will.
History of the Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge
The area of the Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge has been used by people since the 14th century when Shoshone people inhabited the land. The plentiful sagebrush in the area attracted plenty of sage grouse and the Shoshone named the region sisk-a-dee-agie, which means "river of the prairie hen." Fur traders who passed through the region and interacted with the Native Americans changed the name to Seedskadee which has stuck ever since.
During the 19th century when East coast settlers were moving West and when Mormons were looking for a new home, their paths took them through Seedskadee. Thousands and thousands of wagons traveled along those trails ultimately converging at the Green River before splitting off again. Because of the danger of the river, there were several ferry crossings where operators would bring groups across the river safely, for a fee.
In 1956, after the construction of some dams on the Colorado River, the flow of the Green River was altered and the landscape drastically changed, threatening the wildlife and surrounding environment. In order to mitigate those effects, the Seedskadee Reclamation Act of 1958 was passed, allowing the acquisition of the lands that became the Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge was officially designated by Congress seven years later in 1965.
What to Do There
Because of its location along the Green River, Seedskadee has an abundance of permanent and migratory wildlife and because the refuge is open to the public, you can do pretty much anything you want, from horseback riding to picnics. However, there are some popular activities for guests.
Fishing is a favorite thing to do for many visitors to the Green River. Home to 22 different species including rainbow trout and Kokanee Salmon, there is a wide variety of fish for the catching. While you can catch any fish you want, you're only allowed to keep one trout per day and only artificial flies and lures can be used. If you want to fish on your own, feel free to pick a prime spot and enjoy the solitude. The only requirement is a fishing license, and of course a rod and some bait. If you're interested in a guided fishing or float trip, there are four licensed providers listed on the Seedskadee website.
Fans of birds and other wildlife will love Seedskadee. Because it has four different types of habitat—riverine, wetland, riparian and upland—a wide variety of animals live in and visit the refuge. Set up at the picnic area a short walk from the Visitor's Center at Headquarters with some binoculars and check animals off your wildlife checklist. Or you can go for a hike and try to find some critters. For the most successful wildlife watching, try to go early in the morning or late at night, and try to be as quiet as possible.
Birders will love a chance to see the near threatened sage grouse.
If you're interested in American history, be sure to see the Lombard Ferry Crossing. At that precise point, hundreds of thousands of pioneers crossed the Green River on a wooden ferry. The Lombard Ferry was first established in 1863 though it didn't get its name until 1889. Dozens of caravans would camp out on one side of the river waiting to cross; journeys cost as much as $16 a wagon and sometimes it took months before a wagon could cross the river. Beyond a plaque and some wagon tracks, there isn't much evidence that the river was a major hub of activity but you can imagine what the area looked like in the 19th century.
There are three more ferry sites—Slate Creek, Kinney, and Robinson—also within the refuge.
Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge is around 50 miles north of Rock Springs. To get there, take I-80 W for around 23 miles then take exit WY-372 W/WY-374 W (you'll be turning right). Follow WY-372 W for 25 miles. There will be a turn off to the main headquarters on your left after mile marker 30.
Tips for Visiting Seedskadee
- The only facilities on the refuge are the visitors center and the environmental education center, both of which are open 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m Monday through Friday. Be sure to call ahead to ensure that the center will be unlocked. While there you can use the bathroom, fill up water bottles, and learn about Seedskadee's wild residents.
- Refuge roads have a speed limit of 25 mph can often be quite rough, so take care when driving on them.
- Camping and overnight stays are not allowed in the refuge. The refuge opens 30 minutes before sunrise and closes 30 minutes before sunset so make sure you allocate enough time to get back to your car.