Trip Planner: USA / New York State / Finger Lakes / Seneca Falls / Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge
Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge is a wildlife preserve operated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, encompassing part of the Montezuma Swamp at the north end of Cayuga Lake. The refuge lies between the cities of Rochester and Syracuse, New York (5mi east of Seneca Falls, and 10mi west of Auburn), including parts of Seneca, Cayuga, and Wayne counties. Most of the refuge lies in the Town of Tyre, in the northeast corner of Seneca County.The Montezuma Marshes were designated a National Natural Landmark in May 1973; the citation notes that "A small, 100-acre area within the site is one of the best examples of undisturbed swamp woodlands in New York or New England."The New York Northern Montezuma Wildlife Management Area borders the national wildlife refuge and protects additional parts of the Montezuma Swamp.A significant spot along the Atlantic Flyway, the Refuge provides crucial habitat for migratory waterfowl and other birds.HistoryThe Finger Lakes Region was formed by the melting glaciers of the last glacial period, over ten thousand years ago. The northern and southern ends of the lakes gradually developed into extensive marshes. First the Algonquin Indians and later the Cayugas of the Iroquois Nation were the earliest known inhabitants to reap the rewards of the bountiful life in the marsh. The name "Montezuma" was first used in 1806 when Dr. Peter Clark named his hilltop home "Montezuma" after the palace of the Aztec Emperor Montezuma in Mexico City. Eventually the Marsh, the Village, and the Refuge all acquired the name.For Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge and beyond, use our Seneca Falls trip maker app to get the most from your Seneca Falls vacation.
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Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge Reviews
You drive by it all the time. Take the time to visit it. Stop and smell the flowers. They have alot to offer. A trip well worth it. more »
I have lived here for many years and drove by countless times before I finally decided to stop and visit this refuge. It was such a treat and I only wish that I had stopped long ago! There are trails ... more »
We were in the area and decided to visit. We started out at the visitor center where you can see what birds are currently in the area (and stuffed examples of many birds) and got a map, then took a ni... more »
Overcast windy and some snow. Lot of birds on the move. Great place for water fowl and birds of prey. The kids and adults will love it. Bring your best camera with good zoom.👍
The train trip became a safari, at least as much of a safari as a land recovering from DDT and massive industrialization can muster. In the Serengeti, nature still populates the land with flocks and herds the way she has for hundreds of years. A countryside recovering from a Silent Spring when SET collapsed the food chain and almost wiped out the eagles can only be expected to field a minor display. But today, I was amazed. The train passed through a preserve at the north end of Cayuga Lake, the Montezuma National Refuge. I loved seeing hundreds of waterfowl swimming on the surface of ponds built for their welcome. I saw massive flocks of Canadian Geese flying overhead in chevron formations. Not the bigger flocks I've witnessed over Perry Michigan, but still impressive. The train rolled on and we entered a swamp with hundreds of silver, barkless snags standing tall in the water. On the top of many, I saw stick fortresses upon which herons lay their clutches of eggs. Upon each one, as resolute as an Episcopal verger, I saw the outlines of a blue heron standing guard. I'm not sure I have ever seen a rookery of this size before. But I noted its location upon my map, west of Weedsport and near the rail line. I could easily return for a visit while the rookery serves as a nursery for little herons. As the herons reach back to the days of the pterodactyl, I felt as if I were looking back eons. But this is the way the land prospered with wildlife in the 1800s. Hopefully, nothing delays or puts at risk this return to Eden.
We visited on a warm February afternoon. We saw a lot of water birds, including flights of swans and snow geese. The best view was seeing a dozen Bald Eagles out on the ice. Spectacular!
This is a very special place just 45 minutes drive from Rochester. Wonderful sanctuary for migrating and native birds. Oprey, herons and eagles nest here. Warblers are dripping off the trees during their spring and fall migrations. Hundreds even thousands of migrating snow geese. Sandhill cranes!! A picturesque driving loop plus many wonderful hiking trails. Sweet gift shop operated by The Friends. Montezuma is also a short drive to the local Audubon location. Both places are paradise for nature and bird photographers.
The volunteer ranger was very knowledgeable and we were lucky to run into a group of very serious birdwatchers who knew so much about the birds there! We greatly enjoyed our visit. Great place to bring your camera as well.
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