ZIMMERMAN -- Over 1-Million people live within an hours drive of our next stop on our hometown tourist series: Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge.

Spanning over 30,000 acres, the refuge is wedged in between the St. Cloud and Twin Cities Metros.

Visitor Services Manager Michelle Bengson says the refuge has a lot of varied features.

"Sherburne is particularly special because we have a lot of different habitats here. Everything from big woods to wetlands to prairie. But our claim to fame is our Oak Savannah habitat which is made up of big bur oak trees and prairie grasses."

Over 200 species of birds, 50 mammals, 30 fish, and 20 reptiles call the refuge home.

Project Lead Steve Karel says, there's one bird they have quite a lot of.

"This is a great birding refuge with a lot of waterfowl, but one of the things we're known for is our sandhill cranes...in the fall especially we'll see huge numbers of cranes here. In the last few years we've had close to 11,000 or more here."

The refuge has some upcoming events in the fall including:

  • Wildflower Tour: September 9, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
  • Bird Tour: Saturday September 16, 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
  • Wildlife Festival: Saturday September 30, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
  • Sandhill Crane Tours: Saturday October 14 and Sunday the 15, 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.

The refuge also has "Blue Hill" which provides some very scenic views from the highest point in Sherburne County.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also runs Crane Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, which is located in Little Falls.