Snow Geese at Middle Creek

January 10, 2023

Best Place to See Snow Geese in Lancaster PA

Snow Geese
Photo Credit: Nancy Reber

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s the Middle Creek snow geese migration!  And wow, is it an incredible sight! Every year between mid-February and mid-March, thousands of snow geese migrate through Pennsylvania and stop briefly at Middle Creek.  The preserve is an easy 9 mile drive (18 min) from the Historic Smithton Inn in Ephrata, PA. And the snow geese are not alone, tens of thousands of tundra swans and Canada geese tend to come with them too. The Middle Creek snow geese migration makes for an amazing event that really has to be experienced to be fully appreciated. Visit during "off times" to avoid the crazy-crowds.  Plan it right and you’re likely to see more snow geese than people!  Make it a spectacular outdoor nature-loving activity within an easy drive from Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC, and New York City.

Tips for Seeing the Middle Creek Snow Geese Migration

The annual snow geese migration to Middle Creek Nature Preserve is an awe-inspiring event that thrills local Lancaster County PA residents.  It also lures visitors from around the world alike. Bird-watchers and Audubon members come year after year, binoculars in hand. They want to see the snow geese, tundra swans, and other waterfowl that migrate from the south and make a rest stop at Middle Creek, just 18 minutes from the Historic Smithton Inn. In fact, this Lancaster bed and breakfast is considered by many bird-lovers as the best place to see snow geese in PA 2023!

And good news, the Middle Creek Visitors Center is open again.  You can stop there first for maps and advice from the staff.  The address is:  100 Museum Rd, Newmanstown, PA

Click here for a snow geese migration map.

This blog is all about the Best Places to See Snow Geese in Lancaster PA

How Many Snow Geese Are at Middle Creek?

The easy answer is, it depends, but in 2020, the PEAK number of snow geese was around 130,000!  Some years there can be half that number, but as many as 200,000 have been counted.  Regardless, it's a sight to see!

If you’re curious as to how many snow geese are at Middle Creek Lancaster PA right now? Check out this live stream of Middle Creek’s lake. During the day, you’ll be able to see what’s happening year-round with the PA snow geese.

When is the Best Time to See the Middle Creek Snow Geese?

When the flocks of snow geese begin to arrive depends on a number of variables. Generally, the birds begin to make their appearance after the ice thaws.  This creates areas of open water and when snow is no longer covering the grains the geese depend on for food.

As late February/early March arrives and weather conditions improve, visitors to Middle Creek should start to see snow geese arriving. According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission website, you might consider visiting the area during the first weekend of March to experience the migration.

To see the geese at their most active, the best time of day is either early-morning at sunrise, or late in the day at sunset.

Where is the Best Place to See the Snow Geese?

Close Up of Middle Creek Geese
Photo Credit: Nancy Reber

Willow Point. Park your car in the lot and walk about a mile. And don’t forget your binoculars, camera, and a field guide!  Then you'll want to get a great view, capture a lasting memory, and identify the varieties of birds you'll see there. The weather can be a bit unpredictable in early March, so you might need just a light jacket or a winter coat with all the hat-glove-scarf trimmings. If you’re visiting from out of the area, I recommend packing for both scenarios. It’s best to be prepared! And print this snow geese migration map.

Dusk or dawn are the best times to see the Middle Creek snow geese. If you visit in March, The Pennsylvania Game Commission suggests you drive through the interior on the Tour Road with your camera ready, weather and driving conditions permitting, of course. Please note: a large portion of the interior remains Propagation Area and entry is prohibited. The Propagation Area is what attracts the waterfowl to Middle Creek. This habitat and lack of people within it, remain the primary reason why Middle Creek has become so popular with migrating waterfowl.

Don't be THAT person!

People walking
Photo by Nancy Reber

We get it, everyone's sick & tired of being told what to do!!  But in the Middle Creek Nature Preserve, the notices for road & trail closures are in place for a reason.  We encourage visitors to view the geese with a sense of wonder, not an air of entitlement!!  During the peak of migration, the Game Commission has their hands full, but rest assured, the "regulars" at Middle Creek WILL turn you in, because movement in these areas can mess things up for everyone.  As a first-time visitor you may not realize it, but the die-hards do.  If you're wondering why an area is closed off, ask someone, you might learn something interesting about the Snow Geese behavior!

Are There Other Things To Do Near Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area?

Yes! When you’re in Lancaster County PA for the snow geese migration, you’ll want to save some time for these other activities near Middle Creek:

Fox Meadows Creamery

2475 West Main Street, Ephrata PA | Website

ice cream Fox Meadows Creamery is a beautiful dairy farm with amazing cow to cone ice cream and a must-visit café – especially for foodies! This award-winning ice cream shop features hand-crafted ice cream made on-site with milk from its small dairy farm that’s just across the field. They also have a café and heated outdoor dining!

The menu is incredible and features hand-formed burgers, salads, hand-crafted sandwiches and savory soups made with fresh, local, natural ingredients from Lancaster County PA. You may also choose to call in your order at 717-721-6455 and provide them with your parking spot number and they’ll bring your order to your vehicle contactlessly.  Then you can return to the Historic Smithton Inn and eat it here! May we suggest a glass of wine from our onsite winery, Weathered Vineyards Ephrata? Beer, mixed drinks and alcoholic slushies are available too. 

K-Ville Tavern

2647 Heidelberg Ave, Kleinfeltersville | Website

Source: K-ville Tavern Facebook Page

K-Ville Tavern is a locally owned and operated tavern in the quaint village of Kleinfeltersville.  The pub is just minutes from the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area (and the snow geese)! The tavern offers indoor dining, outdoor dining, and private rooms. There’s a diverse menus with many daily specials, draft beers, and cocktails.

Refreshing Mountain

455 Camp Rd, Stevens | Website

Zip Line
Source: Historic Smithton Inn

At Refreshing Mountain you’ll want to grab on tightly for many of the outdoor adventures here! Ziplines, elevated obstacle courses, horseback riding lessons, and more. This outdoor activity center in Lancaster PA offers safety-minded adventures featuring small, private tours. It’s a great way to come together and share a unique experience while still adhering to social distancing, in the great outdoors.

Lititz Bike Works

229 Railroad Avenue, Ephrata | Website

Bike Trail If you’d rather stick to activities on the ground while experiencing the local beauty of Amish countryside, check out Lititz Bikeworks for local Lancaster bike rentals. Grab a bicycle and pedal through the Warwick-to-Ephrata Rail Trail.  The trail weaves through preserved farms, and the heart of the 1900's industrial era of Ephrata. The bikes are comfy and perfect for cruising the graded trail, which extends through the countryside and connects the towns of Ephrata and Lititz.  Did you now Lititz has been named the Coolest Small Town in America?.

How About Spending a Night or Two?!

Stone B&B Now that you’ve learned about the Middle Creek Snow Geese migration in Lancaster, PA you should consider staying a night or two for the best experience & to see the geese at their prime-time, early in the morning or at dusk. Plan your getaway at the Historic Smithton Inn’s hip boutique accommodations for a memorable visit.

king bed No matter which room you choose, it'll have a working fireplace that you can enjoy as you recount your birdwatching experience! You can even partake in a bottle of local craft wine from our on-site wine bar, Weathered Vineyards Ephrata!  Book your stay online, or give us a call at 717-733-6094.

Book Your Trip Today

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