Rochester Day Trip Ideas: Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge is a 7,000-acre (28 km2) preserve located on the north end of Cayuga Lake, situated in the middle of one of the most active flight lanes in the Atlantic Flyway.

The Main Pool and Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center

Shortly after you enter the main park in Seneca Falls, you’ll find a seasonal Visitor Center with brochures, restrooms and a gift shop. The Seneca Hiking Trail forms a one-mile loop from the Visitor Center parking area, around the refuge’s headquarters area and the observation tower.

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge

The 3.5 mile Wildlife Drive loop opens in April and closes for the winter. There are places where you can pull to the shoulder of the one-way, gravel road, so you can go at your own pace. Keep in mind there are only a few places where you are authorized to stop your vehicle, (you are encouraged to remain in your vehicle at all times) and space is limited. A cell phone audio tour along the drive will inform you throughout. Bring binoculars and cameras (an a few snacks!), keeping your eyes peeled for Bald Eagles. Remember, it’s not all about what you see, but what you hear! Open your windows if the weather allows, and listen to the peaceful sounds of nature.

You’ll exit Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge on Route 89. If you head south, at the corner of Routes 89 & 5/20 you’ll find Montezuma Winery. After all, you are in the heart of Finger Lakes wine country!

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47 Nature Centers, Wildlife Preserves,
Management Areas, Refuges, and Observatories

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge

Even more refuge north of the thruway

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge map

Half of the wetland complex lies north of the thruway, along the Erie Canal up to about Savannah, accessible by feeder roads. Heading north on Rt. 89 there are smaller, quieter pools where you can quietly sit watching migratory birds and looking for nests. While the bulk of visitors will focus on activities and trails surrounding the main pool, take a look at this map for other areas to explore. According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service website, “Two hundred forty-two species of birds, 43 species of mammals, 15 species of reptiles, and 16 species of amphibians can be found [ in Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge ] for at least part of the year.”

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43 Rochester Day Trip
Ideas for 2018

Montezuma Audubon Center

Montezuma Audubon Center

Extend your day trip beyond the refuge and visit the Montezuma Audubon Center in Savannah, NY on your way back to Rochester. There you will find a visitor center, observation platforms, even kayaks for rent. You’ll find current event listings on their Facebook page. The folks here are some of the most passionate educators, and their raptor programs are fascinating.

I’m looking forward to going back at different times throughout the year. We visited in November and in July, and I would love to witness the snow geese migration in March!

Debi Bower

Born, raised and living life as a digital designer in Rochester, NY! I am also a day-tripper, writer & photographer, exploring the nooks and crannies that make our part of New York State so special.

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