The Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge lies within the small New York town of Tyre, but is close to many more well known cities, including Rochester, Syracuse, and Seneca Falls. The refuge is a 10,004-acre preserve that is made up off pools, the Montezuma Swamp, and channels. The refuge is operated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
In 1973 the area was designated as a National Natural Landmark. The area is considered to be one of the most important spots along the Atlantic Flyway, a migratory route that begins in Greenland, down the east coast of Canada, and then the east coast of the United States. Many bird species stop along the route at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge.
The Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge is located in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. The Finger Lakes were formed as a result of melting glaciers in the area. After melting the northern and southern ends of the lakes developed into marshes.
With the development of the area, 70% of what was originally the Montezuma Swamp was drained. What remains today in the protected area of ten thousand acres.
How to Get There
Address: 3395 U.S. Route 20 East, Seneca Falls, NY, 13148
The Wildlife Refuge can be reached from the New York State thru-way. Take exit 41 off of the thruway, then take a right onto NY-414 for 200 yards. Turn left onto NY-318 and continue for 5 miles. Turn left onto NY-5/US-20 and continue for about a mile before reaching the refuge.
Entrance to the park is free!
Best Time to Visit
The best time of day to visit the refuge for wildlife viewing in early morning or later afternoon.
Late February to April is the Spring Migration when you will see thousands of birds passing through as they head North. Mid-April and May are the hatching months for many of the species, including the Bald Eagles. Mid-August through Mid-October will see the Fall Migration when thousands are headed South for the winter months.
What Animals Can You Expect to See?
- Great Blue Heron
- Green-Backed Heron
- Great Egret
- Black-crowned Night Heron
- Virginia Rail
- Common Moorhen
- Pied-Billed Grebes
- Bald Eagles
- Canada Geese
- Snow Geese
- Black Ducks
- Red Fox
- Gray Fox
The Seneca Trail:
The Seneca Trail starts at the visitors center, provides views of the main pool on an observation deck, and takes you past the Cayuga-Seneca Barge Canal. The Seneca Trail is a 1 mile, flat and easy loop trail.
The drive through is 3.5 miles long through the refuge. Along the drive you will find many stops for photos. The drive opens in April (but does depend on the weather) and closes in winter once snow/ice make it difficult to drive.
The Ester Brook Trail:
The Ester Brook trail is a 1.3 miles long loop trail. The entrance to the Ester Brook Trail is found at Gravel Road. The terrain is easy to moderate. This trail will take you past two ponds, along the Ester Brook, and through the woods. This trail is know for its wildflowers that start to flourish in May.
The South Spring Pool Trail:
The South Spring Pool Trail is located just off of Route 89 after Lay Road. The trail eventually meets up with the Ester Brook Trail at the Ridge Trail. The terrain is easy to moderate. Along this trail you can expect to see herons, ducks, woodpeckers, bobolink, and a variety of other song birds.
The Oxbow Trail:
The Oxbow Trail is an easy 3/4 mile loop trail. The trail goes through a mowed field. Along the trail you may see baby snapping turtles, fox holes, and rabbits.
- Jr. Refuge Manager Activity Booklets
The Montezuma Wildlife Refuge is best explored through photos (if you can’t be there in real life of course!)