The refuge beach closes on April 1st for piping plover management. Please click here for more information about the closure.
Explore the refuge with your GPS device! We have a new, GPS-based, self-guided interpretive tour called GeoQuest. Click here for more information.
Did you know that Rachel Carson wrote a brochure about Parker River NWR? Well, it's true, she did! Click here to view or download that historic document.
The refuge offers a variety of wildlife dependent recreational activities for the public, including environmental education and interpretive programs, wildlife observation and photography, hunting, fishing and shellfishing, and canoeing/kayaking.
We are very excited to announce the launch of our new Artist of the Month Series taking place in our visitor center. Please click here to find out more!
The refuge provides many wonderful opportunities for learning about wildlife, their habitats, and the interplay between people and nature. The visitor services staff is currently doing a thorough review of the refuge's educational programming. Until that review has been completed, the refuge will not be able to schedule and lead formal environmental education programs for schools and other groups. If you are interested in running your own field trip on the refuge, please click here to view and/or print information about applying for a Special Use Permit. A list of regulations can be viewed by clicking here.
The refuge frequently offers fun, FREE, educational programs for the public. The refuge also offers a variety of special events throughout the year. In June, the refuge offers “Go Fish,” a surf-fishing day for kids and parents, and in October we offer our annual Wildlife Festival in celebration of national wildlife refuge week. The Wildlife Festival often features live animal presentations, hikes, tours, and crafts for kids. The annual Merrimack River Eagle Festival occurs each February.
Wildlife Observation and Photography
The refuge is renowned for its wildlife observation and photography opportunities. Observation towers and platforms afford commanding views of the refuge and surrounding lands and waters. Several miles of self-guiding foot trails meander through dune, maritime forest, and marsh habitats. All trails are on boardwalks or lined with stonedust to protect the refuge’s fragile ecosystems.
The Hellcat Interpretive Trail is a refuge highlight. This 1.5 mile trail offers a narrative brochure to guide you along numbered posts. This brochure is available at the trailhead, refuge headquarters and the entrance gatehouse when staffed. The Dune Loop portion of this trail takes you up a 50 foot tall dune to give you a 360 degree view of the island. The Marsh Loop portion takes you through the North Pool, past beaver and muskrat homes, and gives you a great chance to view red winged blackbirds and marsh wrens. The Pines Trail, Salt Pannes Wildlife Observation Area, North Pool Overlook, and observation platforms overlooking the beach and ocean at parking lots 1 and 7 are wheelchair accessible. Click here to view a refuge map outlining these and other areas of the refuge.
A new photo club recently formed at refuge. The Photographic Society of Parker River NWR conducts monthly meetings that are open to anyone who has an interest in nature and wildlife photography. Whether you've never pushed a shutter release button or make your living taking pictures, the Society welcomes you! Most monthly meetings occur on the second Saturday of the month, beginning at 1:30 pm in the visitor center auditorium. The Society provides photographic training, coordinates the refuge's annual photo contest and supports other refuge activities. Members wishing to participate in the club's monthly Show & Share slide show can download the guidelines by clicking here.
A checklist of refuge birds is available from refuge headquarters and the entrance gatehouse when staffed. Recent bird sightings on the refuge can also be found online here.
Waterfowl hunting opportunities are available in designated salt marsh areas of the refuge during state seasons. In cooperation with the League of Essex County Sportsmen's Clubs, the refuge conducts a Youth Waterfowler Training Program each fall. This program includes an all-day seminar and a supervised hunt on a reserved section of the refuge. For more information on waterfowl hunting, please click here.
A one day controlled deer hunt is usually conducted on the Plum Island portion of the refuge in December. Hunters are chosen by lottery. All refuge, federal, and state hunting regulations apply. For further information, please contact the refuge. Click here for details about the 2012 deer hunt.
Fishing and Shellfishing
The refuge offers some of the area's finest surf fishing. In season you may catch striped bass, bluefish, and several other species. A refuge permit is required for night fishing and vehicle access to the beach. All refuge, federal, and state fishing regulations apply. For a fact sheet about general recreational fishing opportunities at the refuge, click here
. For a fact sheet that specifically addresses drive-on fishing permits, click here
The refuge tidal flats offer opportunities for commercial and recreational shellfishing. Town and refuge permits are required and all refuge, state, and town shellfishing regulations apply. For information on shellfishing, please click here.
Canoeing and Kayaking
Excellent wildlife viewing opportunities are available via canoe or kayak. Launching or landing non-motorized boats is allowed at the ramp across from Lot 1. Entrance fees apply to anyone bringing in their boat or kayak via the Refuge entrance. For more information on canoeing and kayaking opportunities and regulations, please click here.