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Horicon Marsh Wildlife Area

Horicon Marsh is a 33,000-acre wetland carved out by a continental glacier thousands of years ago. Horicon Marsh was historically destroyed by settlers who dammed and dredged the marsh and later drained it for farming. However, after decades of hard restoration work pioneered by local conservationists, the marsh was designated a ‘Wetland of International Importance’ in the 1990s. Visitors to Horicon Marsh Wildlife Area can see this storied past first-hand by touring the interactive displays in the Explorium in the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center. 

Now, Horicon Marsh is co-managed by the Wisconsin DNR (Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (Horicon National Wildlife Refuge). Management of the wetland is principally directed toward enhancing habitat for migratory waterfowl and waterbirds. During spring and fall, hundreds of thousands of ducks, including mallard, green-winged teal, northern pintail, and gadwall, along with tens of thousands of Canada geese and sandhill cranes, migrate through Horicon Marsh. This seasonal abundance of waterfowl provides great opportunities for wildlife viewing and hunting.

Horicon Marsh Wildlife Area is open to hunting and fishing. Waterfowl hunting is particularly popular, but there are opportunities for pheasant, deer, turkey, and small game hunting. Please see available property maps for locations open to hunting. Pheasant hunting closes at 12 p.m. on weekdays from Oct.-Nov. 3. Trapping and furbearer hunting is allowed by special permit only. Contact the Horicon DNR office at 920-763-6405 for more information about trapping or furbearer hunting. 

Horicon is also open to hiking, paddling, foraging wild edibles, and more. There are over five miles of designated hiking trails through forest, prairie and wetland habitats, which provide scenic views and wildlife viewing throughout the year. Among these are a storybook trail and a wetland boardwalk where Canada geese, wood duck, marsh wren, painted turtles and other wildlife are commonly in close view from spring to fall. Dogs must be leashed while walking trails. Off trails, dogs must be leashed from Apr 15 – Jul 31 to avoid disturbance to nesting birds. A six-mile-long paddle trail along the Rock River goes through the core of the marsh and often provides views of bald eagles, great blue herons, and state-endangered black terns. Scenic overlooks and the viewing room in the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center offer great places to see the marsh and wildlife in every season.  

In partnership with the Friends of Horicon Marsh and volunteers, DNR educators at the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center offer education programs and outdoor events throughout the year. View the calendar of upcoming programs and events.