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Plan Your Visit

Sunset at Blackwater - USFWS.

Points of Interest at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

  • Visitor Center

    Open Monday - Friday 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. The Visitor Center is closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. In addition to being a prime viewing spot for bald eagles as they soar over the center and forage in the nearby marsh, the Center has exhibits specific to the refuge, an upstairs observation area and library, an authentic eagle's nest, and TV monitors for watching live video from the osprey and eagle cams and the "Eagle’s Nest" bookstore and gift shop.  Outside the Center, visitors can enjoy our Butterfly and Beneficial Insect Garden with walking paths, and utilize one of our picnic tables for a meal.

  • Wildlife Drive

    The Wildlife Drive takes visitors along the Blackwater River and offers excellent views of the Refuge. Visitors can drive, bike, or walk the approximately 4 mile paved road, and turnouts are available at different points to safely stop and observe the scenery. Brief stopping outside of the turnouts is permitted only when there are no other vehicles on the Drive. Walking and biking on the Drive is permitted in both directions; however, visitors must remain on the paved road and should abide by standard road etiquette. The Drive is open from dawn to dusk every day, but may be closed during severe weather for safety reasons.

    Download the Wildlife Drive brochure (pdf)

  • Land Trails

    Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge currently has four land trails: the Marsh Edge Trail, the Woods Trail, the Key Wallace Trail, and the Tubman Road Trail.  The trails are open for walking from dawn to dusk.

    Tips for those using the trails: Anyone who visits during warm weather is advised to bring insect repellent. Also, the three unpaved trails can get soggy in wet weather, so visitors should wear appropriate footwear if it's been raining. The Marsh Edge Trail is closed from mid-winter through mid-summer to limit disturbance to nesting eagles and herons.  During the fall hunting season, the Key Wallace Trail may be closed periodically for safety reasons.

    Please remember that pets are not permitted on trails, even if on a leash.  Pets may be walked in the area directly adjacent to the Visitor Center, and may ride in cars on the Wildlife Drive.

    Learn more about the land trails.

  • Water Trails

    Purple Trail, Orange Trail, Green Trail

    The Orange and Purple Trails generally have the highest overall salinity and the lowest diversity of plant species. Big cordgrass and saltmarsh cordgrass thrive here. In late July and August, marsh hibiscus is covered in white and pink blooms.

    On the Green Trail, the marsh ranges from slightly brackish to fresh water. During summer, fragrant waterlily covers much of the water and narrow-leaved cattail grows at the water's edge.

    Learn more about the water trails.

  • Cycling

    Blackwater NWR offers several bike routes for the novice to experienced cyclist. Visitors can choose to complete an approximate 4-mile or 7-mile loop route along the paved Wildlife Drive. Blackwater NWR also has maps for 20-mile and 25-mile routes that follow county roads through the varied habitats of the Refuge and surrounding area.

    Download the bike map (pdf)

Last Updated: Dec 20, 2015
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