Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge

One of our favorite adventures is to the Bear River Migratory Refuge just outside of Brigham City. This is a free activity with a visitor’s center, a short walk, and a long drive around the refuge. The visitor’s center is located just off of 1-15 (exit 363: Forest Street exit). Just get off the freeway and go west about 1 block. The center is located on the left.

We always enjoy walking through the Visitor Center if it is open.

Visitor Center

Inside the Bear River Migratory Refuge Visitor Center, there is a gift shop, and some cool educational exhibits. We enjoy walking around and learning about the birds the migrate through here. Make sure to check the list by the desk to see what has been spotted recently. There is also a small pond right next to the Visitor Center. We always see coots and swallows here, but last week we saw really big green toads all around the edge of the pond. There was even a muskrat and some huge carp swimming around.

There are lots of displays about the birds that migrate through Utah.
We love walking the 1/2 mile trail outside the Visitor Center. It’s flat and paved.


You can also take a short walk here that goes from the Visitor Center around the ponds and back to the parking lot. The trail is paved and is 1/2 mile back around to the parking area. We like to walk this way because we often see a few birds, and maybe some cool bugs or even a snake. They have recently paved another section of trail if you would like to extend your walk.

We often spot frogs along the trail.

Auto Tour Route

After you spend some time at the Visitor Center, there is a drive around the refuge that we especially love. It takes about an hour. It is 12 miles from the Visitor Center to the actual one-way loop, and then 12 slow miles around the loop on a well maintained dirt road. This is where we spot some more unique birds and we usually see carp jumping out of the lake. We love to stop here because it breaks up our drive from Grandma’s house, but we also have a soft spot for birds.

This is the loop road. It is right by the water the entire time, so it’s great for seeing birds.
We saw this cinnamon teal right by the road.
There are lots of ducks and wading birds.
There are always American Coots to see.

Different seasons of the year bring different birds, but there is always something to see. We also love the beautiful views of the mountains behind the marshes created by the Bear River. There are different places to pull over and get out of the car. Some spots have information signs, and others have little overlooks so you can see out over the water.

We think the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge is a beautiful spot.
Cattle egrets are here in spring and fall.
Great Blue Herons can usually be seen here.
We love when we see mammals. We have seen muskrats here, and weasels.

If you are new to bird watching, check out this book. It is our favorite bird book because it is sorted by color and is easy for kids to use. A simple pair of binoculars goes a long way, too. Here is an affordable pair on Amazon.

We always spend a good half day or more exploring the Bear River Migratory Refuge. If you love birds, then you definitely need to visit. If you are looking for a great spot that is free to be out in nature, you will enjoy this place, too. We usually end our visit with a stop for shakes (and maybe dinner) at Peach City in Brigham City.

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