Valentine National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is 71,516 acres in size and located 20 miles south of Valentine, Nebraska along Highway 83 in north-central Nebraska. The Refuge was established in 1935 to protect a portion of the Sandhills and the area wildlife. This region is the largest remaining tract of mid- and tall grass prairie in North America. In 1976, the unique nature of the Sandhills prairie was recognized when the Refuge was designated as a National Natural Landmark.
Numerous lakes, marshes, and the tall grasses found on the hills and in the meadows provide habitat for many kinds of wildlife. More than 260 species of birds have been sighted on the Refuge. In early spring, visitors can see prairie chickens and sharp-tailed grouse gather on dancing grounds for their elaborate courtship display. A wide variety of ducks nest on the Refuge in large numbers, and during the fall and spring migrations many species of waterfowl stop to rest and feed. Sometimes as many as 150,000 ducks can be found on the Refuge with peak numbers occurring in May and October.
Many other types of wildlife can be observed at the Refuge including white-tailed deer, mule deer, coyotes, muskrats, and beavers.
The Refuge offers many activities for visitors including excellent birdwatching. It is best to early in the morning or just before sunset. Refuge staff maintain trails that are open for hiking. Fishing and upland game, deer, and waterfowl hunting are allowed.