Tamarac Wildlife Refuge

Rochert, Minnesota.

On many occasions, we’ve traveled on Minnesota Highway 34 between Detroit Lakes and Itasca. About 8 miles (13 km) east of Detroit Lakes, a sign points north marking the way to the Tamarack Wildlife Refuge. There have been many times we’d like to head in that direction, but we were always on the way to somewhere else. The 43,000-acre refuge is managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and is only about another 8 miles north of that intersection. This day was the day we chose to make it a day trip to visit this popular North Woods wildlife refuge. We had an economic reason to head to the park as well. Being of a certain age, both my wife and I qualify for the lifetime National Park Pass. Some years ago, when we qualified, we spend the $10 USD for a pass for me, and when I mentioned we would need two passes, we were told that only one pass is necessary as it covers whomever is in the vehicle with the holder. Reason enough to not spend another sawbuck at that time.

Well, at some point, we came to the realization that there might be a time when Lynn would want to visit a park, for example when I am out of state on a Civil Air Patrol activity, or maybe when I am no longer around. Whatever. In any case, I happened to notice that the pass would no longer be $10, but would, in only a few days, be increased to $80. We could visit a park soon, or plan to spend the $80 the next time we went to a park. Considering a trip to the refuge and resulting costs for a couple of meals would cost us $80 anyway, we decided it would be worth it to make a special trip on a nice day. After all, if we waited until after the deadline, we’d still have the fuel and meal costs, and the additional $70 fee. Besides, it gave me an excuse to photograph another place my camera hadn’t yet visited.

As in most parks, there are both hiking trails and a scenic drive. We struck out on a walking tour, a relatively short hike, in search of wildlife to photograph. Apparently we picked a day when nobody was home. You’ll note that save for one photo of a hummingbird, there are no wildlife images to be found here. Though the park is home to many trumpeter swans, the few we saw on a watershed were so far away that even my 300 mm telephoto lens couldn’t see them all that clearly. I didn’t bother to even process the only photos that featured the swans as they simply were too far away to be interesting.

After our walking tour, we headed down the road to the start of the park’s scenic drive. The park is also open to hunters and fishermen year round from 8 AM to 4 PM daily, and 10 AM to 5 PM weekends. Except for the fourth of July, the refuge is closed on Federal Holidays. I submit for your review a small gallery of images captured at the refuge on a day in late August. In most browsers, you can click on an image to enlarge it and to scroll through the gallery. Note to photographers: As to the photographs, this post is the first post featuring images processed by Skylum’s Luminar 2018, a photo processing tool recently released for Windows. Feel free to  comment on the change in photo style, positive or negative.

John Steiner

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