DeSoto Bend Wildlife Refuge and Ft Atkinson, NE

Actually, DeSoto Bend is in Iowa, but is only about half an hour outside of Omaha. This journal covers several visits my husband and I have made to this wonderful wildlife refuge over the years, the birds we've seen, and our trips to the museum. I've also included Ft Atkinson in this journal as the fort is about 1/2 an hour from DeSoto. The fort is a point of interest and worth a short stop, but does not warrant a journal all its own.


DeSoto Bend Wildlife Refuge and Ft Atkinson, NE

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Casual Tourist on September 28, 2000

Nothing compares to the sounds of thousands of geese and ducks huddled together and squawking. It's an all-encompasing sound -- seems to come at you from all angles. And nothing compares to the sight of thousands of birds leaving the water in unison, moving as if in one body.${QuickSuggestions} The fall is the best time to visit DeSoto Bend if you wish to see water fowl. Migration is in full-swing then. Late November affords viewing of eagles.${BestWay} Car or bike. Also has trails for walking.

DeSoto Bend Visitors Center

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Casual Tourist on September 28, 2000

The Visitors Center serves as a museum for the articles recovered from the Bertrand, a steamboat that sank within the current boundaries of the park. The displays in the museum are well-lit and adequately spread out so that crowding is not a problem.

The visitor's center also offers an auditorium for films and several wildlife displays. There is a pleasant wildlife viewing area indoors so even if there is a chill in the air one can see what they came to see in comfort.

The facility is clean and well kept with large, roomy restrooms.

DeSoto Bend Visitors Center
State Highway 362
Omaha, Nebraska

DeSoto Bend Waterfowl Viewing Area

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Casual Tourist on September 28, 2000

I'm usually very frustrated with the outdoor waterfowl viewing area. It is constructed much like an old-time wooden fort with peep holes for us humans to look out of onto the water. The problem is, the area is usually crowded and there are not enough 'peep holes' to go around. I understand that there is a concerted effort to hide us humans from the birds so as to preserve the integrity of their habitat, but it is frustrating all the same. The viewing problems exist mostly on weekends, so this problem can be resolved by visiting on a week day.

The numbers provided by the refuge for migrating fowl are stagering -- 500,000 snow geese and 50,000 ducks.

DeSoto Bend Visitors Center
State Highway 362
Omaha, Nebraska

Ft Atkinson

Member Rating 2 out of 5 by Casual Tourist on September 28, 2000

Ft Atkinson is of historical significance because of its importance during the late 19th century and the settlement of Nebraska. Currently, the fort is in a state of reconstruction. There are several buildings on the premises for viewing. There is no admission to the site last I knew.
ft Atkinson Fort Visitors Center
P.O. Box 240
Omaha, Nebraska, 68023
(402) 468-5611

Bertrand Excavation Site and Trail

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Casual Tourist on September 28, 2000

The Bertrand is a steamboat that sank in the muddy Missouri sometime during the 1860's. It was discovered within the confines of the DeSoto Bend National Wildlife Refuge in 1968. The artifacts from the hull have been removed and are currently housed in the Visitors Center, but the hull itself remains in the pond where it was found. There are displays on the site explaining the excavation and the historical significance of steamboat travel on the Missouri during the settlement period of the country.

The Bertrand Trail is 2/5ths of a mile and runs through marsh and grassland. It's a pleasant little walk that explores the old Missouri river channel.


Wildlife Drive

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Casual Tourist on September 28, 2000

The wildlife drive at DeSoto Bend is always an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. There are about 12 miles of roads that go along the Missouri River and DeSoto Lake as well as through woods and grasslands.

The drive should be taken at a leisurely pace. Eagles nest in the refuge from November to March. Statistics say that as many as 120 eagles have been found in the refuge at one time, but the most I saw in one day was about 8.


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