Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, Utah

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Last year I read Terry Tempest William’s memoir Refuge. It’s a beautifully written book about birds, loss, and cancer that takes place for the most part at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, just a short drive north of Salt Lake City, Utah. As a long time resident of the state, you would’ve thought I’d have visited the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge before now, but I hadn’t.

Our first stop on this adventure was at the visitors center, where little g and Big E explored the varied exhibits on bird habitat. Little g would not let go of my hand as she ran from one exhibit to the next and during the 25 minute introductory movie, she vacillated between climbing on the bench in front of us and pulling me out of the viewing area.

After the museum, we drove out to the 76,000 acres of protected land and drove the 12 mile one way gravel auto tour (open year round from sunrise to sunset). The refuge is an oasis for migratory birds that provides a source of food and shelter for millions of migratory birds each year. Even though our visit was in February (not a common time to go out bird watching) I was amazed by the musical sounds that resonated through the entire area. We saw geese, swans, seagulls and other water birds, and a beautiful sunset lit up the entire area.

My favorite part of the day was listening to the bird calls along the 12 mile auto tour. The honks, coos, chirps and whistles created a beautiful symphony of wild sounds and although we didn’t see any bald eagles (I was hoping) the trip was still fun and worthwhile. Next time I’ll bring along binoculars.

Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
Location: From I-15 Turn west off of exit 363 at Brigham City, Utah. Visitors Center is the first turn on the left.
Length: 12 mile auto tour
Time: 1-4 hours
Tips: Stop at the visitors center first and bring binoculars.

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Author: Mountain Mom

Hi! I'm Mountain Mom. I live with my husband and three young kids in the mountains near Sundance, Utah. When we're not hiking, biking, skiing and camping, I spend my time doing Mom stuff and reading. Summer of 2016 we traveled over 7,000 miles along the US National Park to Park Highway.

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