Location: Prairie Chicken Viewing Stand

Managed by: Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge

Management Address

17788 349th St. SE (Polk County 210)
Erskine MN 56535

Sorry, none of the Leks were in locations that are in locations that could be usable by persons with disabilities this year. Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge is located in the Mississippi Headwaters/Northern Tallgrass Prairie convergence area. It is a key component of the prairie pothole mix of small wetlands surrounded by upland prairies and woodland savannas. This mix of small wetlands and uplands are crucial as breeding habitat for an array of migratory birds, including waterfowl, songbirds, shorebirds, and others. Some of the most unique is the Greater Prairie Chicken. (See http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Glacial_Ridge/about.html) To increase use by people with disabilities two blinds have been constructed and placed over slews at two separate locations giving people with disabilities the ability to hunt over water. The blinds are accessible via a driving trail. Normally the refuge is open to public use via foot traffic only. To qualify as a person with a disability in order to drive to and use the stands the person must be determined eligible for benefits for one of three Social Security Disability benefit programs, possess a State issued permanent Accessible Parking Permit, and/or have a 50% or greater impairment rating by the Veterans Administration. This stand is placed over a wetland area that supports brooding and migrating puddle ducks. It is accessed by a ramp that extends from the car trail to the stand floor.


One of the rarest opportunities available to people is the ability to access an accessible blind to view Greater Prairie Chickens dancing while they are taking part in their annual mating ritual.  Active only a few short weeks in the spring of the year and then only for a few short hours each day at sun rise persons will have to do some planning to use the blinds.  Yearly placement of the blind is dependent on where the Chickens dance so it is not every year the blind is located in an area that can be accessed without being able to walk a long distance to the stand location.  Since the blind moves yearly, snow depths vary, and rain can create muddy conditions it is impossible to create an accessible route for a person with limited mobility or the average person using wheelchairs, unless you possess an all-terrain chair.  In order to give persons with disabilities the ability to experience this event, the Refuge does its best to find a site where birds dance close to a roadway that can be accessed by your vehicle where you can unload and have a helper take the vehicle back to a designated parking area.  Persons will want to be completely situated prior to 1 hour before sunrise to let the area calm down.  The birds will fly in from their rousting areas, congregate and then dance. 

It can be cold during this time of year in Northern Minnesota, around freezing, so wear warm clothes, bring blankets, and/or a propane heater.  Warm clothes include gloves and a face mask if you have problems with body temperatures due to your type of disability.  Window openings have pieces of plywood filling the openings that slide to the side of the window in order to view birds, but when open the inside of the stand is open to the elements.  People may be viewing birds through an open window with a strong cold wind hitting them in the face.  Moderate temps get cold when sitting for long periods of time so be cautious.  Prior to going to the stand location inform others where you are going and to give them a check in time.  These area may have limited phone reception so it is questionable your phone will work.  The stand is on a limited travel roadway and may not have any vehicles passing for days at a time so if you had vehicle problems you may be stranded until the person you have made prior arrangements to check in with contacts help.  While at this site you will see many migrating birds and wildlife.  At the time pictures were taken Sandhill Cranes were present as well as Canada Geese. 

Prior to setting up arrangements to visit the blind call the Refuge and ask staff if the chickens have started their yearly dance.  Persons interested in using the blind have to make reservations by following this link to http://visitcrookston.com/blindreservation/ or by calling 218-281-4320.  The best option at this time is to call and inform the agent that you are interested in the accessible blind because a designation of which blind is accessible is not provided on the web site. 

Location Info » For directions, click the marker in the map. »

This stand is located approximately 11 miles from Fertile, MN. Travel 7.5 miles north from Fertile and turn left (west) on 360th St SW travel 2.8 miles to 135th Ave SW. At 135th Ave SW turn right (north) and travel 1/2 mile to a parking area that will be located on the right side (east side) of road. From the parking area locate reflectors which will guide you to the stand.


The closest town is Fertile which has food, gas, and a grocer (south seven miles on Hwy 32). The refuge has accessible porta-potties available during warmer weather please visit the USFWS web-site link for location.


The closest sleeping accommodations are located on Maple Lake (Inn at Maple Crossing) south of Mentor as well as the cities of Fertile, Red Lake Falls, Crookston and Fosston. Camping is allowed within many of the smaller towns located along Hwy 2 such as Erskine and McIntosh.