Scheduling is on a first come, first served basis. Please contact the refuge at your earliest convenience for information on available dates. A scheduling form is included on this Internet site for your use. Groups may visit the refuge seven days a week during daylight hours. Reservations are required, at least two weeks in advance, in order to preclude scheduling conflicts. This insures that group use can be accurately recorded and that the group can be made aware of any special problems, interesting wildlife sightings, or refuge regulations that might affect their visit.
Attempt to keep your groups small. The quality of the outdoor experience is diminished when groups are too large. The entire group size visiting the refuge should not exceed 80 individuals. The optimum group size for the students during activities is 10 students per adult.
Teachers should stress appropriate dress for students. Comfortable walking shoes, long pants, long sleeved shirts, warm jackets, scarves, caps, and gloves are needed during the colder months. In summer, shorts, comfortable walking shoes, and t-shirts are recommended and all clothing worn should be tolerant of the wet/ sandy conditions of the beach. Mosquitoes and other insects are present from April through October so instruct students to dress appropriately and to apply non-aerosol insect repellent to exposed skin. For more precautions for the habitat, see Health Hints.
The Visitor Contact Station, Ashville Bridge Creek Environmental Education Center, Bay Trail, beach, D‐Pool Pier, Dune Trail, Outdoor Classroom Site, Seaside Trail, Dike System, and designated study areas are available for use by groups. Please inform the refuge staff of your needs and plans prior to arrival.
Learn more about our group sites.
No picnic facilities are provided on the refuge although Little Island City Park, adjacent to the refuge at its north end, contains tables and shelters which groups can use. Parking fees are charged from mid-May until Labor Day at Little Island.
Restroom facilities are available at the Visitor Contact Station and are accessible from an outside entrance.
The Visitor Contact Station, restrooms, and trails are wheel chair accessible.
Groups involved in outdoor classroom activities should bring paper, pencils, clipboards, and other needed materials. Additional equipment is available from the refuge staff.
The auditorium inside the Visitor Contact Station seats approximately thirty individuals and may be reserved upon request for films and slide programs. However, we believe the most meaningful experience will occur in the natural environment.
Bus parking is provided in the refuge lot next to the Visitor Contact Station. Upon arrival, please park within the designated lines for oversized vehicles.
The vehicular access ramp to the beach is closed to all foot traffic. Groups must use the Seaside or Dune Trail boardwalks for beach access.
In the event of inclement weather, please contact the refuge office at (757) 301‐7329 to reschedule your visit.
All groups must be properly supervised and are expected to abide by the refuge regulations. Upon arriving at the refuge, students should remain on the bus until the teacher has checked in at the refuge office.
Please encourage your students to respect their environment.
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American bitterns are year-round inhabitants of Virginia Beach and members of the heron family. These birds are typically very shy and secretive, hiding among reeds and grasses along the edges of lakes and bays. There are a few very friendly bitterns at Back Bay though, so keep your eyes peeled and camera ready next time you are in the area. Their camouflage is excellent so we must be attentive to detail to spot these beautiful birds.