State Forests

Public Lands to View Birds


Explore over 489,000 acres of public land throughout the Mississippi Headwaters – Red River flyway. State forests, county lands, state park land and a national wildlife refuges are amongst the abundant areas one can visit.

Although there is no guarantee of going to a particular location and spotting your sought after bird, these areas provide large tracts of undeveloped forest, wetlands, grasslands, lakes and streams that can increase your chances.

Maintenance of logging roads in State Forests and County lands, may be uncertain, so driving should be cautious. Many of these roads may be closed or used for snowmobile routes in the winter. Private lands may be interspersed with public lands.

More information from the Minnesota DNR: State Forests, State Parks, Trails.

BADOURA STATE FOREST: Located in a landscape denoted by large marshy areas intermixed with confers (mainly jack pine), the 4,400 acres of state owned land in this 15,360 acre forest offers many birding opportunities.

HUNTERSVILLE STATE FOREST: Over 16,000 acres of forest cover the rolling to flat landscape. Jack and red pine predominate, with a mix of aspen, spruce, and tamarack. The loamy sand and peat soils contribute to the clear waters of the Crow Wing and Shell rivers that pass through it.

ITASCA STATE PARK: Noted for its rolling, knob and kettle topography, over 100 lakes and the Headwaters of the Mississippi River, and over 32,000 acres provides home to an array of birds. Primarily old growth red and white pine, maple, basswood, birch, aspen, tamarack and spruce comprise the forested landscape.

PAUL BUNYAN STATE FOREST: This 72,000 acre forest is located on a terminal moraine, the land is rough and hilly with many tiny ponds and bogs. A large percent of the forest is aspen with a mix of pine, oak and maple.

SMOKY HILLS STATE FOREST: Rolling to moderately steep slopes describe the over 14,000 acres of state owned land within the boundaries. The Shell River and numerous small shallow lakes dot the area, providing shore bird viewing. A mix of hardwood and jack pine make up the forest.

TAMARAC NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE: Nearly 43,000 acres provide a feeding and rest stop for waterfowl and migratory birds. Located within the transition zone of deciduous hardwood forest, coniferous forest and the tallgrass prairie. The site is managed for its wetlands, forests and grasslands.

TWO INLETS STATE FOREST: The landscape consists of gently rolling hills with scattered lowlands. Much of the forest was once farmed, but later abandoned due to unproductive soils. The nearly 14,000 acres of state land is now returning to jack pine and aspen. Hungryman and Cedar are two lakes within the area.

WHITE EARTH STATE FOREST: Situated in Mahnomen, Clearwater and Becker Counties, this 160,000 acre forest is divided into 3 units. Glaciers created the rolling hills, potholes and lakes. Much of the forest is maple, basswood, red oak, aspen, red and white pine and white spruce.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle