Description - Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is located on the west branch of the Rock River in southeastern Wisconsin making up the northern two-thirds of the marsh (21,000 acres). The southern one-third (11,000 acres) is administered by the Wisconsin Department of Nature Resources as the Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area. Both agencies work together to manage the marsh as one wetland ecosystem. The Horicon Marsh spans over 32,000 acres as the largest freshwater cattail marsh in the United States.
The Wisconsin Glacier sculpted the shallow peat-filled lakebed thousands of years ago creating a basin area 14 miles long and from 3-5 miles wide. The marsh is bounded on the east by a sharply rising ridge of the Niagara Escarpment that rises approximately 250 feet above the marsh to an elevation of 1,100 feet. The land to the west of the marsh rises slowly and is dotted with many small potholes and several shallow lakes. Up to 300,000 Canada geese stage on the refuge in the fall. The area is also a Mecca for ducks, cranes, herons, and shorebirds.
- The State of Wisconsin began land acquisition and restoration of the marsh in 1927. When funds ran dry, the federal government stepped in to complete the job. The Horicon National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1941.
Horicon Marsh is both a state wildlife area and national wildlife refuge. Different opportunities and restrictions apply to each area. The Horicon Marsh Visitor Center is open year round Monday through Friday and open weekends in the fall, providing details on an array of recreational activities from hiking and biking to auto touring and winter sports. The Marsh Haven Nature Center is a nonprofit organization created more than 30 years ago and today boasts a beautiful center where visitors can learn about the ecology, history and wildlife of Horicon Marsh. Many recreations are centered on bird watching. Over 223 species have been identified at the marsh while an additional 44 birds have been listed under "Accidental" birds. Seasons and accessible locations vary. Special events, talks, tours, and field trips are outlined in a calendar of educational programs and services, which include opportunities for children, youth, adults, and educators in need of in-service workshops. For details about recreations afforded at Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, including fishing and hunting opportunities, call the visitor center Monday through Friday (also open weekends in fall). Canoeing and the training of hunt dogs are permitted in the State Wildlife Area. Call the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for details on Horicon Marsh Wildlife Area.
Recreation - Horicon National Wildlife Refuge invites its visitors to hike, boat, bike, auto tour, fish, cross-country ski, snowshoe, bird watch, hunt, trap, enjoy nature photography and art, watch wildlife, and participate in environmental education talks, tours, and programs.
Climate - Southeast Wisconsin has four distinct seasons with warm summers and long winters. January's average temperature is above 16 degrees F (-9 degrees C). Average July temperature is 85 degrees F (29 degrees C). During summer, temperatures can climb to above 90 degrees F (32 degrees C). The area's average yearly precipitation ranges from 32-34". Annual snowfalls in the Southeast Region can range from 20 - 50". Dressing in layers is a good way to remain comfortable in Wisconsin.
Horicon National Wildlife Refuge is located in southeastern Wisconsin. The headquarters and visitor center is located 6 miles east of Waupun and 3.5 miles south of State Highway 49 on County Road Z.