Thousands of visitors flock to this area every spring to view 60 species of migrating birds that congregate on a former dairy field.
Just two miles from downtown Fairbanks is a birder's paradise known by locals simply as Creamer's Field. Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge is a 2,200-acre preserve that began as a dairy farm but now provides a range of habitats - forests, wetlands, and fields - for a variety of animals, particularly migrating birds.
Things to Do
Each spring and summer, visitors are drawn to the area to view migratory waterfowl, songbirds, sandhill cranes, and resident birds from the trails and viewing areas located off of College Road in Fairbanks. Other activities include hiking and wildlife viewing amid the peaceful scenery. The Creamer’s Field trail system is open year-round, and multi-use trails are groomed throughout the winter for cross-country skiing, dog mushing, and skijoring. In addition to the trails, there are viewing platforms around the margins of the fields. The Farmhouse Visitor Center features exhibits and information on wildlife sightings, the Creamer’s history, and the refuge. Volunteer naturalists offer guided walks in the summer and host educational events throughout the year.
A number of nature trails meander through the refuge including the Boreal Forest Trail, Seasonal Wetland Trail, and Farm Road Trail. Some trails feature observation towers, interpretive signs, and viewing platforms. A self-guiding walking brochure and a winter guide with a map of ski and dog mushing trails are available at the Visitor Center.
Wildlife and Landscape
The Refuge encompasses farmland, wetland habitat, and boreal forest habitat. Today the Alaska Department of Fish and Game seeds the area with bird-luring plants, attracting more than 60 species annually, including sandhill cranes.
The focal points of the Refuge are the historic dairy buildings and the farm fields, which are now the exclusive habitat of migrating waterfowl and resident wildlife. Birds that flock to the refuge include ducks, geese, plovers, and cranes. The forested part of the refuge is home to a variety of wildlife, including moose, woodchuck, coyote, fox, lynx, and squirrel. The refuge’s wetlands provide residence for beaver, minx, and wood frogs - the only species of frog in Interior Alaska.
The refuge dates back to Alaska's turn-of-the-century gold rush when a pioneer family brought three cows and some horses from Nome up the Yukon and Tanana Rivers to Fairbanks to operate a dairy. In 1928, the Creamers bought the dairy and enlarged and operated it as the largest and most successful dairy in Interior Alaska until 1966. As the dairy grew, so did the migratory waterfowl that stopped at Creamer's Field, lured by the large open fields and grain.
When the Creamer's put the place up for sale in 1966, Fairbanks residents rallied to ensure the farm fields were preserved as a migratory stopover. The area was established as state game refuge in 1979 with a mission to protect and enhance migratory bird habitat, with an emphasis on waterfowl. The farmhouse and barns, added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977, are the only surviving pioneer dairy buildings in Interior Alaska.
Facilities and Camping
The Farmhouse Visitor Center provides trail guides and a list of recent wildlife sightings. Several miles of established trails lead visitors to some of the best wildlife viewing areas. There is no camping at the refuge.
Creamer's Field is at 1300 College Road, north of downtown Fairbanks and just east of Danby Street.
For more information, visit the Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge website.