Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge

Rapids Lake Unit

 

 

     
 
About
 
 

Ownership

 
 
 
     
 

Links

 
 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

 
     
 

Overview

 
 

The Rapids Lake Unit is one of eight units that make up the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. It is on the west side of the Minnesota River, across the river from the Louisville Swamp Unit and from the Carver Rapids Unit of the Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area. The Rapids Lake Trail follows the west bank of the Minnesota River and ends at the Carver Creek Loop Trail. Together, these two trails make a 7 mile round trip hike. Most of the trail is a flat, unimproved forest road. It passes through marshy areas and river bottom forest. In late July, 2014, the water had finally receded after spring flooding. The trails were still muddy in places and had a few depressions with ankle deep water.

 
     
 

History

 
 

 

 
     
 

Management

 
 

 

 
     
 

Comments

 
 

 

 
     
 
Location
 
 

Maps

 
 

Rapids Lake, Chaska and Louisville Swamp Units Trail Map

 
         
 

Printable Map(s) with GPS coordinates

 
         
         
 

Size

 
 

1,480 acres

 
         
 

Parking

 
 

Rapids Lake Education and Visitor Center
15865 Rapids Lake Rd. (formerly Carver Highlands Dr.)
Carver, MN 55315
N44 43.140, W93 37.728

 
         
 

Hours

 
 

Sunrise to Sunset for approved activities, including federal holidays

 
         
 

Fees

 
 

No fee

No National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota charges a fee

 
         
 

Driving Directions

  Area and County  
 

Get driving directions from Google Maps to this destination from any address, and send those directions to your phone.

   
          Carver County  
          Metro Area  
     
 
Activities
 
 

Hiking Trails

 
 

Rapids Lake Trail and Carver Creek Loop Trail (round trip): 7 miles

Loop Trail: 0.6 mile

Service Road (round trip): 2.0 miles

 
     
 

Hunting

 
 

Archery & Firearms: Deer, Upland Game, Migratory Birds.

See Hunting - Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge for details.

 
     
 
Ecology
 
 

Ecological Classification

  Ecological Classification  
  Ecological Province    

Eastern Broadleaf Forest Province

   
  Ecological Section    

Minnesota & NE Iowa Morainal

   
  Ecological Subsection    

Big Woods

   
  Land Type Association    

Le Sueur Alluvial Plain

   
             
 

Native Plant Communities*

   
 

Bulrush Marsh (Northern)

Dry Sand - Gravel Prairie (Southern)

Pin Oak - Bur Oak Woodland

Red Oak - Sugar Maple - Basswood - (Bitternut Hickory) Forest

Sugar Maple - Basswood - (Bitternut Hickory) Forest

Silver Maple - (Virginia Creeper) Floodplain Forest

   
  * Source: The Minnesota Biological Survey, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Ecological Resources      
         
 

Natural Features

     
 

“Upland prairie, lake and marsh, river bottom forest, and forested river bluffs.”

 

 

 

 

 

           
 
Visitor Photos
 
           
 

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MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
 
 

Entrance

 
    Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Rapids Lake Unit      
           
 

Parking

 
    Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Rapids Lake Unit      
           
 

Visitor Center

 
    Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Rapids Lake Unit      
           
 

Rapids Lake Trail

 
    Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Rapids Lake Unit      
           
 

Carver Creek Loop Trail

 
    Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Rapids Lake Unit      
           
 

Shallow Lake

 
    Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Rapids Lake Unit      
           
 

Minnesota River

 
    Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Rapids Lake Unit      

 

Camera

     
 
Slideshows
 
 
     
     

 

slideshow

       
 
Visitor Videos
 
       
 

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Other Videos
 
  Rapids Lake Unit - Prescribed Burn
Amber Masloski
 
   
 
About

May 29, 2019

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge - Rapids Lake Unit was Burned Spring 2019. Approx. 340 acres.

Music: Ed Sheeran - I See Fire (Kygo Remix)

 
  Swans & Ducks & Geese At The Rapids Lake Unit
TDempsterDesign
 
   
 
About

Dec 23, 2011

 

 

Camcorder

           
 
Visitor Sightings
 
           
 

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MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings
 
 

Visits

7/22/2014                
 
 

Amphibians

 
 

northern leopard frog (Rana pipiens)

wood frog (Rana sylvatica)

  wood frog  
 

Birds

 
 

Nineteen bird species with conservation status in Minnesota have been seen here:

Endangered

Henslow’s Sparrow (Centronyx henslowii)

Threatened

Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)

Wilson’s Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor)

Special Concern

Acadian Flycatcher (Empidonax virescens)

American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)

Bell’s Vireo (Vireo bellii)

Cerulean Warbler (Setophaga cerulea)

Forster’s Tern (Sterna forsteri)

Franklin’s Gull (Leucophaeus pipixcan)

Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus)

Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus)

Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus)

Louisiana Waterthrush (Parkesia motacilla)

Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis)

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)

Purple Martin (Progne subis)

Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)

Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus)

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator)

 
 

eBird Field Checklist (Complete)

eBird Field Checklist (Bluff Park)

eBird Field Checklist (South)

 
 

American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)

American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)

American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)

Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina)

Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)

Eastern Wood-peewee (Contopus virens)

Field Sparrow (Spizella pusilla)

Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

Hairy Woodpecker (Leuconotopicus villosus)

Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea)

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)

Olive-sided Flycatcher (Contopus cooperi)

Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla)

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus)

Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)

Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius)

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)

White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)

 

American Goldfinch

Blue Jay

Indigo Bunting

Northern Cardinal

Red-winged Blackbird

White-breasted Nuthatch

 
 

Fishes

 
 

One fish species with conservation status in Minnesota has been seen here:

Special Concern

blue sucker (Cycleptus elongatus)

 
 

Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas Fishes List

 
         
 

Fungi and Lichens

 
 

Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas Fungi List

 
  False Turkey Tail (Stereum ostrea)   False Turkey Tail  
 

Insects and Arachnids

 
 

cabbage white (Pieris rapae)

Carolina grasshopper (Dissosteira carolina)

common green darner (Anax junius)

common whitetail (Plathemis lydia)

eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

goldenrod bunch gall midge (Rhopalomyia solidaginis)

goldenrod gall fly (Eurosta solidaginis)

little wood satyr (Megisto cymela)

monarch (Danaus plexippus)

mourning cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)

question mark (Polygonia interrogationis)

red admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

red-spotted purple (Limenitis arthemis astyanax)

twelve-spotted skimmer (Libellula pulchella)

western honey bee (Apis mellifera)

widow skimmer (Libellula luctuosa)

 

common green darner

eastern tiger swallowtail

red-spotted purple

widow skimmer

 
 

Mammals

 
 

Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas Mammals List

 
 

coyote (Canis latrans)

eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus)

eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)

plains pocket gopher (Geomys bursarius)

thirteen-lined ground squirrel (Ictidomys tridecemlineatus)

northern raccoon (Procyon lotor)

whitetail deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

  whitetail deer  
 

Plants

 
 

One plant species with conservation status in Minnesota are found here:

Special Concern

sessile-flowered yellow cress (Rorippa sessiliflora)

 
 

Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas and Minnesota Biological Survey Vegetation Releves Plant List

 
 

Plants frequently found in:

Bulrush Marsh (Northern) MRn93a

Dry Sand - Gravel Prairie (Southern) UPs13b

Pin Oak - Bur Oak Woodland FDs37b

Red Oak - Sugar Maple - Basswood - (Bitternut Hickory) Forest MHs38c

Silver Maple - (Virginia Creeper) Floodplain Forest FFs68a

Sugar Maple - Basswood - (Bitternut Hickory) Forest MHs39a

     
 

 

absinth wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)

alfalfa (Medicago sativa ssp. sativa)

alsike clover (Trifolium hybridum)

American basswood (Tilia americana var. americana)

American elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)

American elm (Ulmus americana)

annual fleabane (Erigeron annuus)

Aunt Lucy (Ellisia nyctelea)

big bluestem (Andropogon gerardi)

bird’s-foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus var. corniculatus)

black bindweed (Fallopia convolvulus)

black medick (Medicago lupulina)

black raspberry (Rubus occidentalis)

black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima)

black-seeded plantain (Plantago rugelii var. rugelii)

blue giant hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)

blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis)

boxelder (Acer negundo var. negundo)

bristly greenbrier (Smilax tamnoides)

bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa var. macrocarpa)

Canada moonseed (Menispermum canadense)

Canada wildrye (Elymus canadensis)

Canadian horseweed (Conyza canadensis)

Canadian tick-trefoil (Desmodium canadense)

catnip (Nepeta cataria)

clammy groundcherry (Physalis heterophylla var. heterophylla)

common blue violet (Viola sororia)

common burdock (Arctium minus)

common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale ssp. officinale)

common evening primrose (Oenothera biennis)

common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

common motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca ssp. cardiaca)

common mullein (Verbascum thapsus ssp. thapsus)

common plantain (Plantago major)

common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia)

common yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

crown vetch (Securigera varia)

curly dock (Rumex crispus)

eastern purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

field horsetail (Equisetum arvense)

field pennycress (Thlaspi arvense)

foxtail barley (Hordeum jubatum ssp. jubatum)

giant goldenrod (Solidago gigantea)

giant ragweed (Ambrosia trifida)

golden alexanders (Zizia aurea)

gray-headed coneflower (Ratibida pinnata)

green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica)

grimmia dry rock moss (Grimmia laevigata)

hairy vetch (Vicia villosa ssp. villosa)

hedge bindweed (Calystegia sepium ssp. angulata)

hoary alyssum (Berteroa incana)

hoary vervain (Verbena stricta)

large-flowered beardtongue (Penstemon grandiflorus)

leafy spurge (Euphorbia virgata)

long-headed coneflower (Ratibida columnifera)

marijuana (Cannabis sativa var. sativa)

musk thistle (Carduus nutans)

narrow-leaved purple coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia)

northern pin oak (Quercus ellipsoidalis)

orange daylily (Hemerocallis fulva)

plains cottonwood (Populus deltoides ssp. molinifera)

prairie fleabane (Erigeron strigosus)

prairie peppergrass (Lepidium densiflorum)

prickly lettuce (Lactuca serriola)

purple prairie clover (Dalea purpurea var. purpurea)

quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides)

red clover (Trifolium pratense)

reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea)

rough cinquefoil (Potentilla norvegica)

rough false pennyroyal (Hedeoma hispida)

scouring rush horsetail (Equisetum hyemale ssp. affine)

Siberian elm (Ulmus pumila)

sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula var. curtipendula)

silver maple (Acer saccharinum)

slender willow (Salix petiolaris)

smooth brome (Bromus inermis)

smooth oxeye (Heliopsis helianthoides var. scabra)

spotted knapweed (Centaurea stoebe ssp. micranthos)

spotted touch-me-not (Impatiens capensis)

staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina)

stiff goldenrod (Solidago rigida ssp. rigida)

stinging nettle (Urtica dioica ssp. gracilis)

sugar maple (Acer saccharum ssp. saccharum)

tall bellflower (Campanulastrum americanum)

veiny pea (Lathyrus venosus var. intonsus)

water smartweed (Persicaria amphibia)

white avens (Geum canadense)

white campion (Silene latifolia ssp. alba)

white clover (Trifolium repens)

white mulberry (Morus alba)

white prairie clover (Dalea candida var. candida)

white snakeroot (Ageratina altissima var. altissima)

white sweet clover (Melilotus albus)

wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

wild grape (Vitis riparia)

woodbine (Parthenocissus vitacea)

yellow goat’s beard (Tragopogon dubius)

yellow sweet clover (Melilotus officinalis)

 

Acer negundo var. negundo (boxelder)

Acer saccharinum (silver maple)

Acer saccharum ssp. saccharum (sugar maple)

Achillea millefolium (common yarrow)

Agastache foeniculum (blue giant hyssop)

Ageratina altissima var. altissima (white snakeroot)

Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed)

Ambrosia trifida (giant ragweed)

Andropogon gerardi (big bluestem)

Arctium minus (common burdock)

Artemisia absinthium (absinth wormwood)

Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed)

Berteroa incana (hoary alyssum)

Bouteloua curtipendula var. curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama)

Bromus inermis (smooth brome)

Calystegia sepium. ssp. angulata (hedge bindweed)

Campanulastrum americanum (tall bellflower)

Cannabis sativa var. sativa (marijuana)

Carduus nutans (musk thistle)

Centaurea stoebe ssp. micranthos (spotted knapweed)

Conyza canadensis (Canadian horseweed)

Dalea candida var. candida (white prairie clover)

Dalea purpurea var. purpurea (purple prairie clover)

Desmodium canadense (Canadian tick-trefoil)

Echinacea angustifolia (narrow-leaved purple coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea (eastern purple coneflower)

Ellisia nyctelea (Aunt Lucy)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye)

Equisetum arvense (field horsetail)

Equisetum hyemale ssp. affine (scouring rush horsetail)

Erigeron annuus (annual fleabane)

Erigeron strigosus (prairie fleabane)

Euphorbia virgata (leafy spurge)

Fallopia convolvulus (black bindweed)

Fraxinus pennsylvanica (green ash)

Geum canadense (white avens)

Grimmia laevigata (grimmia dry rock moss)

Hedeoma hispida (rough false pennyroyal)

Heliopsis helianthoides var. scabra (smooth oxeye)

Hemerocallis fulva (orange daylily)

Hordeum jubatum ssp. jubatum (foxtail barley)

Impatiens capensis (spotted touch-me-not)

Lactuca serriola (prickly lettuce)

Lathyrus venosus var. intonsus) (veiny pea)

Leonurus cardiaca ssp. cardiaca (common motherwort)

Lepidium densiflorum (prairie peppergrass)

Lotus corniculatus var. corniculatus (bird’s-foot trefoil)

Medicago lupulina (black medick)

Medicago sativa ssp. sativa (alfalfa)

Melilotus albus (white sweet clover)

Melilotus officinalis (yellow sweet clover)

Menispermum canadense (Canada moonseed)

Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot)

Morus alba (white mulberry)

Nepeta cataria (catnip)

Oenothera biennis (common evening primrose)

Parthenocissus vitacea (woodbine)

Penstemon grandiflorus (large-flowered beardtongue)

Persicaria amphibia (water smartweed)

Phalaris arundinacea (reed canary grass)

Physalis heterophylla var. heterophylla (clammy groundcherry)

Plantago major (common plantain)

Plantago rugelii var. rugelii (black-seeded plantain)

Populus deltoides ssp. molinifera (plains cottonwood)

Populus tremuloides (quaking aspen)

Potentilla norvegica (rough cinquefoil)

Quercus ellipsoidalis (northern pin oak)

Quercus macrocarpa var. macrocarpa (bur oak)

Ratibida columnifera (long-headed coneflower)

Ratibida pinnata (gray-headed coneflower)

Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac)

Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)

Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima (black-eyed Susan)

Rumex crispus (curly dock)

Salix petiolaris (slender willow)

Sambucus canadensis (American elderberry)

Securigera varia (crown vetch)

Silene latifolia ssp. alba (white campion)

Smilax tamnoides (bristly greenbrier)

Solidago gigantea (giant goldenrod)

Solidago rigida ssp. rigida (stiff goldenrod)

Taraxacum officinale ssp. officinale (common dandelion)

Thlaspi arvense (field pennycress)

Tilia americana var. americana (American basswood)

Tragopogon dubius (yellow goat’s beard)

Trifolium hybridum (alsike clover)

Trifolium pratense (red clover)

Trifolium repens (white clover)

Ulmus americana (American elm)

Ulmus pumila (Siberian elm)

Urtica dioica ssp. gracilis (stinging nettle)

Verbascum thapsus ssp. thapsus (common mullein)

Verbena stricta (hoary vervain)

Vicia villosa ssp. villosa (hairy vetch)

Viola sororia (common blue violet)

Vitis riparia (wild grape)

Zizia aurea (golden alexanders)

 

alsike clover

American elderberry

black raspberry

black-eyed susan

blue grama

bur oak (var. macrocarpa)

Canadian tick-trefoil

common blue violet

common evening primrose

common mullein

golden alexanders

gray-headed coneflower

hedge bindweed

large-flowered beardtongue

long-headed coneflower

orange daylily

purple prairie clover

red clover

rough cinquefoil

spotted touch-me-not

tall bellflower

white clover

white prairie clover

wild grape

yellow goat’s beard

 
 

Reptiles

 
  Dekay’s brown snake (Storeria dekayi)   Dekay’s brown snake  

 

 

Binoculars


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