Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge
6465 Refuge Road, Sherman
Hours: sunrise–sunset daily. The welcome center is open 7:30am–4pm Monday–Friday; 9am–4pm Saturday; 1–5pm Sunday.
General admission: Free.
Leave the bread at home because an outing to Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge isn’t your typical duck-feeding trip to the park. The 12,000-acre refuge near Sherman is a safe haven for dozens of migratory bird species, and if your child is old enough to use binoculars, it’s an ideal spot to marvel at (but not feed) the local wildlife.
Start in the visitor center to learn about the refuge’s five habitats: forest, agricultural fields, wetlands, open water and prairie. Colorful, interactive maps give you an idea of what your family will see and where. Other kid-friendly activities inside the center include listening to animal sounds, touching fossilized mammal tracks and tracing the migration patterns of visiting bird species.
If you don’t know where to begin outdoors, call ahead and reserve seats on a free tram tour at 2pm on Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday. Soak in your surroundings during the 90-minute trip around the wildlife loop on the shores of Lake Texoma. Listen as a guide explains the oil-rich history of the land and stop for exciting animal sightings (binoculars provided) such as geese, deer or the occasional coyote. Each tour accommodates 9–12 people, with lap seats available.
For an even closer look at nature, join the monthly Youth First Saturday program for hands-on activities and crafts. Fun with Fossils, the theme for February 7, includes a story time and mini fossil dig. The 90-minute class ends after photos are taken with Puddles, the center’s 1930s blue goose mascot. All ages are welcome and registration is encouraged but not required.
If you want to strike out on your own, the refuge offers alternatives to instructor-led activities. Grab a free map before you wander one of five hiking trails (we recommend the new wheelchair-accessible Harris Creek Trail for a 1.25-mile stroller-friendly walk around Crawfish Pond). Drive out to the Sandy Day Use Area for year-round fishing, or indulge in a lakeside picnic at one of three picnic areas.