Crane Tours

Sandhill cranes staging on Wisconsin River.

2018 Tour Offerings

Expert Tours ($75/person)

Small groups (about 20 people) will meet at the Leopold Center for a wine and cheese reception and warm welcome. An introduction from Dr. Stan Temple, Senior Fellow at the Aldo Leopold Foundation and Beers-Bascom Professor Emeritus in Conservation in the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Wisconsin – Madison will orient individuals to the history and behaviors of the cranes. Dr. Temple is a world-renowned bird expert and has published several works on crane migration.

Participants will travel in their vehicles about a mile to a meeting place in the Leopold-Pine Island Important Bird Area, just west of the Leopold Shack and Farm. An open-air, rustic ride through the floodplain will bring guests within a short walk of the large viewing blind situated on the bank of the Wisconsin River. The blind affords ample space for modest-sized groups to observe the incredible phenomenon without disturbing the wildlife.

Thousands of sandhill cranes gather at sunset.

Photo: Sunil Gopalan

Once the cranes have settled for the evening, participants will return to their vehicles for departure just after sunset.

Included with your tour purchase is a complimentary membership to the Aldo Leopold Foundation.

Optional: Join us for a complimentary tour of the Leopold Shack and Farm before Crane Congregations for the full experience! These tours, outside of our normal visitation season, will be offered 1.5 hours prior to the start of each public crane tour.

Basic Tours ($35/person)

We welcome members of our local community to spend an evening with our education and land stewardship fellows to view and learn about the cranes in an informal, family-friendly setting. This slightly condensed tour lasts about two and a half hours. Participants are welcome to bring their own snacks and water bottle.

Photography Blinds ($150/blind)

Cranes prepare for landing.

Photo: Greg Dixon

Private, individual blinds are perfect for amateur or professional photographers will be offered. These blinds may be reserved on weekdays for those wishing to capture images and video. The Aldo Leopold staff will monitor the cranes and place photographers in the blinds at locations with optimal viewing.


COMING SOON* The Roost Overnight Tours ($250/person)

Cranes in flight at sunset.

Photo: Dave Freriks

Book an overnight tour for a truly immersive experience! These tours will be offered for individuals or couples (groups of six or less) interested in a more intimate experience. Featuring two crane viewing opportunities, guests will receive on-site overnight accommodations in the newly constructed Future Leaders Center and two meals. Following check-in, guests will receive an orientation of crane biology and history before heading to a viewing location on the eastern side of the Wisconsin River. Dinner will be served back at the foundation with Executive Director Buddy Huffaker, an opportunity to reflect on the experience before retiring for the evening. A second viewing experience near Leopold’s Shack is available in the early morning hours before the cranes fly out for the day. The experience closes with a tour and breakfast at the Shack, a National Historic Landmark.

*Contact Lauren Graves with inquiries.

Frequently Asked Questions

Considering joining us, but have some questions? Consult our handy FAQs. If you still have questions, please contact Lauren Graves.


Feature photo, top, courtesy of Robert Rolley.