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Outdoor Sporting Fact Sheet

December 20, 2010

Related Document: OutdoorSporting.doc

The Rochester, Minn. area provides a unique mix of outdoor sporting opportunities and visitor amenities found nowhere else in the U.S.  Rochester is the gateway to world-class trout fishing, white-tailed deer, grouse, waterfowl and wild turkey hunting, eagle watching, and so much more.  Centrally located within minutes of countless streams, rivers and lakes, Rochester provides access to terrain ranging from river-carved limestone bluffs to the east, hardwood forests to the north, and prairie flatlands to the south and west.  With its international airport, vast number of hotel rooms, dozens of independent restaurants and diverse shopping venues, Rochester is the ideal place to combine outdoor adventures with indoor luxuries and accessibility.


The Rochester area is an angler's paradise, due to the area's plentiful trout streams, rivers and lakes.  Native brook and wild brown trout, walleye, northern pike, bass, perch and catfish can be caught in:

  • The Mississippi River, with its backwater sloughs and river-fed lakes - such as Lake Pepin northeast of Rochester - providing record catch-per-line ratios
  • 720 miles of trout streams along landscape characterized by craggy limestone and sandstone valleys, steep hillsides and coldwater springs
  • Rochester's Silver Lake, Zumbro River, Mayowood Lake and Foster Arend Pond
  • - Whitewater State Park — a 2,700-acre park known for brown, brook and rainbow trout swimming in the spring-fed Whitewater River and Trout Run Creek


The bluff country east and southeast of Rochester provides outstanding white-tailed deer and wild turkey hunting opportunities, while the immediate Rochester area is famous for its giant Canada geese, attracting hunters from throughout the upper Midwest each year.

The Mississippi River bluff country, just minutes from Rochester, provides the perfect combination of good nutrition, cover and managed hunting pressure to produce large trophy deer.

  • The southeast corner of Minnesota, including the Mississippi and Root Rivers, is known as one of the finest deer hunting locations in the country
  • More than 200,000 white-tailed deer are harvested each year in Minnesota

Once thought to be extinct, giant Canada geese were re-discovered in 1961 in Rochester's Silver Lake Park, thanks to a local flock started by one of the Mayo brothers (of Mayo Clinic fame), which attracted native birds.

  • 35-40,000 geese can be found in Rochester at any one time (changing over two to three times a year for an annual population of 60-120,000 birds)
  • 20,000 stay the entire winter in the waters of Silver Lake Park, which are kept open by a nearby power plant
  • October through late December is prime goose hunting season in Rochester, and a statutory game refuge surrounding city provides plentiful opportunities

Pheasant and Upland Bird
Compared to neighboring states, Minnesota's upland bird hunting has been outstanding.

  • Upwards of 655,000 wild pheasants were shot in 2007 in Minnesota, the most since 1964

Southern Minnesota is known to have the highest numbers of wild turkey in the state.

  • In the forests of southern Minnesota, turkeys were successfully reintroduced in the 1970s, and their offspring have spread up and down the Minnesota River valley and beyond
  • Minnesota's wild turkey population is estimated at more than 60,000


Along the many bodies of water in the Rochester area, bird-watching is spectacular.  From the majestic bald eagle to millions of migrating songbirds of numerous species, the variety of topography creates bird-watching retreats to remember.

  • Thousands of bald eagles can be seen during migration in the spring
    • Nearly 100 pairs nest along the Mississippi each year; wintering bald eagles congregate in the open water by the lock and dam in La Crosse during winter
    • Other area lakes and state parks welcome these majestic birds each year
    • The National Eagle Center in Wabasha is America's "Eagle Education Destination" - eagle, wildlife and conservation exhibits permeate the 14,000 square feet facility, and the area's premier observation decks provide ample opportunity to view countless wild eagles over the adjoining Mississippi River and backwater
  • Whitewater State Park's steep limestone bluffs and ravine walls, groves of eastern red cedar and winding gravel roads provide ample opportunities to find rare birds any time of year
    • o In winter, soaring golden eagles, red-shouldered hawks and other raptors can be seen soaring overhead
  • Millions of songbirds, including warblers, vireos, thrushes and sparrows use the Mississippi River corridor as their migration route
  • Thousands of tundra swans rest and feed on the Mississippi from October until backwaters freeze
  • Great blue herons nest in rookeries in the flooded timbered areas on the Mississippi; some areas contain more than 1,000 nests and include great egrets and double-crested cormorants
  • American white pelicans feed in formation and soar over the area in the summer


Pope & Young Club & St. Charles Museum: Located just south of Rochester, the national headquarters of the Pope and Young Club and its museum is a testimony to North America's rich bowhunting heritage.

  • Artifacts include items made by Dr. Saxton Pope and Arthur Young, Fred Bear's borsallino hat, the most complete collection of wooden bows (more than 200 longbows and recurves made between 1835 and 1950), one of the largest and most complete collections of broadheads ever amassed for public display (more than 1,000), and more
  • Admission is free and hours are Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Arrowhead Bluffs Museum: Northeast of Rochester in Wabasha, this museum boasts a complete Winchester gun collection, one of every model from 1866-1982 including commemoratives, American Indian artifacts, mounted wildlife, John Deere collection, tools and antiques.

  • Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily; open May through October

Cabela's: Located in nearby Owatonna, the Cabela's retail store offers 150,000 square feet of educational and entertainment attraction, museum-quality animal displays, huge aquariums and trophy animals, as well as quality outdoor merchandise.

  • Hours are Mon.-Sat. 9 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun. 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Gander Mountain: At 3470 55th St. NW in Rochester, the retail center offers a rare dedicated fly fishing shop, full-service archery pro shop, custom arrow cutting, professional fish line winding other informational seminars.

  • Hours are Mon.-Sat. 9 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Gamehaven Scout Reservation: 262-acre southeastern Rochester recreational retreat offers a shotgun range, rental cabins, private lake canoeing and fishing, pavilions, and a fire-ring.

Southern Minnesota Sportsman's Club: Founded in the 1920s, this 64-acre facility dedicated to sportsmanship and conservation includes two lighted trap ranges, 25, 50, 100 and 200-yard ranges, an archery range and two club houses.

Byron Sportsmen & Conservation Club: On 115 acres just northwest of the Rochester suburb Byron, the club offers a cement-enclosed shooting range with three seat levels for right or left-handed shooters, a 25-yard pistol range, clay shooting, archery, and a clubhouse with taxidermy, fireplace, food and beverage.

Rochester Archery Club: On 40 acres in northwestern Rochester, the club has been providing ranges and field courses with life-sized animal targets on a variety of terrain for over 70 years.


For more information, please contact Mary Gastner at 800-634-8277 or mgastner@rochestercvb.org or visit http://www.rochestercvb.org/.