What’s YOUR favorite national wildlife refuge?
We asked several people around the country. Read what they had to say. We’d like to hear from you, too. Share your favorites on Twitter or Instagram, using the hashtag #WildlifeRefuge. Include a photo of yourself at the refuge, if you can.
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, NM
Snow geese cast their reflections in still water at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico by Deidre Lantz.
Photo lab worker, Portland, OR
Interests: Amateur photography, birding, drawing
Favorite refuge: Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, NM
Why: “It has so much going on during all seasons of the year. There is no bad time to visit. The variety of wildlife at the refuge from winter to spring is so different. My favorite birds are sandhill cranes and roadrunners.”
Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge, CA
Condors rise on a thermal at Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge in California. Photo by Jackie Wollner.
Marketer/contractor, Los Angeles
Interests: Animals, photography, birding, environment, investing, politics, technology
Favorite refuge: Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge, CA
Why: “It’s where condors gather in numbers, where teams of scientists study them and protect them, where they test the birds for lead on a regular basis and monitor the birds’ nesting sites. It’s very much like winning the lottery to see a condor in the wild. I feel privileged to have seen them. I saw them with the Friends of the California Condor. They deserve credit. They’ve put a lot of work into this. I’m the beneficiary of their effort.”
Patuxent Research Refuge, MD
The golden hues of autumn suffuse a woodland trail at Patuxent Research Refuge in Maryland.
Preschool teacher and leader in Outdoor Afro, Baltimore
Interests: Nature photography, hiking, yoga, climbing
Favorite refuge: Patuxent Research Refuge, MD
Why: "I grew up going there all the time. I went a few times on school field trips. I also went with my family. We lived 15 minutes away. We’d walk on the trails, take tram rides, see inside the museum. As a kid, I was really into that. I learned how to identify animal tracks. The refuge is still one of my favorite spots. I like to walk the trails, understand more about the environment."
Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge, MN
A red-winged blackbird eats ticks on a deer at Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota. Photo courtesy of Naomi Ballard.
Coffee company logistics manager, Minneapolis
Interests:hunting, hiking, canoeing, and exploring
Favorite refuge: Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge, MN
Why: “Wide open spaces, coupled with visions of grasslands like you imagine them to be in days gone by. It is quality habitat with abundant waterfowl, respectable populations of upland birds, easy access, and sparse crowds. What’s not to like? I have hunted Big Stone with friends from dawn to dusk, while watching scores of migrating birds arrive from the north and depart to the south. Big Stone will make you work hard for pheasants, but that's a good way to explore every nook and cranny of the land, often without another soul in sight. It's a beautiful public space that is a stone's throw from home.”
San Joaquin National Wildlife Refuge, CA
A red fox and a grey fox vie for dominance at San Joaquin National Wildlife Refuge in California. Photo courtesy of Rick Kimble.
College biology student and leader in Latino Outdoors, Stockton, CA
Interests: birding, camping, leading nature hikes, helping people discover area parks and public lands
Favorite refuge: San Joaquin National Wildlife Refuge, CA
Why: “It’s really small and close by. You never know what you will see. I’ve been going there for three years, at different times of the year, different times of day. One time I saw a nest of black phoebes on top of the men’s restroom. I’ve seen killdeer eggs on the gravel parking lot. When I was hiking one time with my baby brother, he looked around the bend, and he goes, ‘Raquel there’s a dog.’ I said, ‘That can’t be. There are no dogs allowed here.’ I looked and there’s a coyote.”
John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, PA
A bald eagle keeps watch over eaglets in the nest at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum in Pennsylvania. Photo by Bill Buchanan.
Retiree and neighborhood activist, Philadelphia
Interests: Neighborhood activism, fishing, environmental protection
Favorite refuge: John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, PA
Why: "I live three blocks from the refuge. I’m out there every day walking my dog or fishing for large carp – catch and release. I used to come up years ago to go fishing there with my nephew before it became a refuge. I like walking the trails, too. Every once in a while, I take my binoculars. A lot of times there are bald eagles. You can look across the impoundment and see the nest wherjonae the eagles are. Whenever Heinz Refuge has an event, they include our Eastwick community group."
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, FL
Roseate spoonbills display their bright pink plumage at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. Photo courtesy of Jonathan Milak.
Sales rep, New Smyrna Beach, FL
Interests: Nature photography
Favorite refuge: Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, FL
Why: “When I visit, I know that I’m always going to see something – especially in winter. The birds are so thick there. It’s fantastic. It’s very relaxing. It’s quiet. I’ve gone there for 30-plus years. I go there for stress relief. [The refuge] is kind of my little escape. It recharges my batteries.”
Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, NY
A great egret prepares to down a fish at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge in New York. Photo by Doug Racine.
College administrator and accounting professor, Skaneateles, NY
Interests: Wildlife nature photography
Favorite refuge: Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, NY
Why: “It’s close and filled with all kinds of wildlife. None of my visits has ever been uneventful. That’s why I started carrying a camera. A mallard would swim by. All of a sudden, he’d fly up in the air because a muskrat would surface right beneath him. Or a bald eagle would glide straight toward me. I’ve been there when foxes and deer have gone by. God bless refuges for giving me a place to play with photography. I love nature. I think it’s important for everybody to understand what wonder-filled natural resources we have so close at hand.”