Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge in Northwest Minnesota is located 43 miles east of Grand Forks, North Dakota on the south side of the intersection of ND Highway 32 and 2. Within the Refuge is a blind where visitors can view the mating dance of the Greater Prairie Chicken, a species that many have worked hard to reestablish to the area. To have a blind to watch this is very unique; seeing the females in a circle while the males strut their stuff in the middle hoping to capture the interest of them.
The Blinds at Glacial Ridge have a 36-inch ramped entrance. Staff and volunteers spending a great deal of time finding locations where people with disabilities can drive to the blind and unload close to the entrance. Glacial Ridge Refuge, as the name implies, is located on the banks of prehistoric Lake Agassiz so the ground is chiefly gravel which is relatively hard and drains well in higher areas. Greater Prairie Chickens do not dance for long in the spring and visitors have to be setup in the blind at least an hour prior to dawn, during a time of year when the temperature can drop below freezing with residual snow on the ground. Because it can be cold you will want to bring a portable heater to make your wait more comfortable. Bird Watchers make this a destination stop so reservations are important.
Minnesota Convention and Visitors Bureau manage the reservations for the Refuge and also keep track of the best times in the spring to catch them dancing. There are multiple blinds located on the Refuge and not all are accessible, so if you need to use the accessible blind inform the representative when you call. The number is (800) 809-5997 FREE.
In Central Minnesota, Clearwater River Public Fishing Access has a wheelchair accessible boardwalk dock in one of Minnesota’s white pine forests not too far from the great Mississippi River. From the parking lot, the beginning of the boardwalk has trees and bushes that embrace you followed by a mix of smells including fresh grasses, pine needles and fast moving waters carried on the breeze.
The boardwalk has been constructed with four platforms that jet out to the stream to fish from; the stream is clear and fast. From any of the four locations a person can fish or just watch and enjoy nature. I have tried fishing a couple of times and had no luck with the fish, I think it is a much better picnic area and in my case a great place to watch my dog splash around in the rapids.