The United States Congress designated the Mingo Wilderness (map
) in 1976 and it now has a total of 7,730 acres
All of this wilderness is located in Missouri
and is managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Eighteen thousand years ago, the Mississippi River flowed through this area on its way to the Gulf of Mexico. Because of natural events, the river shifted east forming a biologically rich swampland comprised of bottomland hardwoods intermixed with cypress and tupelo. The former channel basin attracted Native Americans who utilized the bountiful natural resources. By the late 1800’s, settlers and loggers started draining the swamp while removing large tracts of old-growth forest. In 1944, Congress authorized the purchase of the remnant forest lands to create the Mingo National Wildlife Refuge. Today, Mingo Wilderness is a large portion of this refuge. A series of ditches and levees adjacent to the Wilderness help approximate hydrologic conditions that once occurred naturally. A large diversity of flora and fauna exists, such as river otter, bowfin, hairy-lip fern, bald eagles, swamp rabbits, wood ducks, and monarch butterflies. The Wilderness provides critical food and shelter for bald eagles and migratory waterfowl along the Mississippi Flyway. Giant cypress dominates the Wilderness swamp offering nesting platforms for eagles and other birds. Otters and beaver, turkey and amphibians are frequent sightings for visitors. Predator-proof nesting boxes, used commonly by the evasive wood ducks, dot the refuge.
The western one-third of the refuge offers a Wilderness setting with diverse habitat and abundant wildlife, an area highlighted with gentle rolling hills of the Ozark Plateau nestled beside Monopoly Marsh with intersecting streams and rich swamplands. Meandering underneath a canvas of cypress and mixed hardwoods, the Stanley Creek and Mingo River flows gently out of the Mingo Wilderness into the remainder of the Refuge--offering many miles of ditches for easy canoe access.