DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge serves as a stopover for ducks and geese during their migrations between Arctic nesting grounds and Gulf Coast wintering areas. The territory of the refuge was originally west of the Missouri River, which bulged around it eastward, but channelization cut a straight line (north-south) through the middle of the refuge, leaving half of it on the Iowa side.
Bald eagles are often seen when waterfowl are present, and good viewing opportunities are available from the visitor center. An assortment of warblers, shorebirds, gulls, and other species also can be observed on the refuge during fall and spring migrations. In the summer, white-tailed deer are often seen in the morning and evening hours. Wild turkeys often gather in large groups along the roads and in the fields.
The Steamboat Bertrand, a sternwheeler that sunk in 1865 while bound for Montana Territory, was discovered on the refuge in 1968 and unearthed the following year. Visitors may view the site of this discovery, and the DeSoto Visitor Center exhibits 200,000 artifacts recovered from the hull. Steamboats were used in that era to carry supplies to fur trading posts, frontier settlements, and mining towns. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, more than 400 steamboats sank or were stranded between St. Louis, Missouri and Ft. Benton, Montana, victims of the turbulent, snag-strewn "Big Muddy".
1434 316th Lane
Missouri Valley, IA 51555
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DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge