Visitor Activities

Dock in the water
  • Hunting


    There will be no hunt during the 2020 season.

    On years when a deer management hunt takes place, Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge offers select dates in October. A total of 116 hunters are chosen through a state lottery system. Interested parties may apply for either the Refuge or False Cape State Park at Hunters may also hunt stand-by on the day of the hunt. Scouting is encouraged during daylight hours the week prior to the hunt dates. Waterfowl hunting is prohibited in waters within the Presidential Proclamation Boundary and on all refuge lands. 

    Learn more about hunting at Back Bay NWR.

  • Fishing

    Visitors fishing in the surf

    Freshwater and surf fishing are available at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Freshwater fishing is available off the dock next to the parking lot and in D-pool. Handicapped parking is provided adjacent to the D-pool dock. The Seaside and Dune Trails provide access to the beach for surf casting. The vehicle access ramp should not be used as pedestrian access. A special night surf-fishing program provides beach access until midnight during the month of October with the purchase of a Special Use Permit. All state catch limits apply and a valid fishing license is required for all fishing activities at Back Bay NWR.

  • Wildlife Viewing

    Two deer

    Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge offers several opportunities for wildlife viewing. The time of year will dictate the wildlife seen. Five trails provide over eight miles to explore. The Wildlife Viewing Window provides a look into one of our managed impoundments year-round, providing an excellent place to see waterfowl and shorebirds. A platform on the Dune Trail offers a view of both the Atlantic Ocean and Back Bay. Six spotting scopes are located throughout the refuge to allow visitors to more easily spot and identify distant wildlife. Keep an eye out for deer, raccoons, bobcats, muskrats, river otters and a variety of birds!

  • Interpretation

    Visitors looking through binoculars

    Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge offers a variety of interpretive programs and special events. The Blue Goose Tram (run by Back Bay Restoration Foundation) runs throughout the year, offering a guided tour through the refuge and False Cape State Park to the historic Wash Woods site. Volunteer days, such as Clean the Bay Day (June) and National Public Lands Day (September) give visitors the opportunity to protect and maintain their national wildlife refuge. Fishing clinics are also offered at these volunteer events. National Wildlife Refuge Week is also celebrated annually during the second week in October.

  • Environmental Education

    Children holding up wildlife projects.

    National wildlife refuges provide wonderful outdoor classrooms for students of all ages. Programs fulfilling state standards of learning are available for schools visiting on field trips. Topics for field trips include sea turtle conservation, a pond explorers program, marsh nature hike and more. Refuge staff may also be available to visit your school, civic league or community group to conduct a program if a field trip is not possible. Other programs, especially summer sessions, strive to educate today’s visiting public and youth about the refuge, ecology of Back Bay and the mission of national wildlife refuges.

    Learn more about environmental education opportunities.

  • Photography

    Birds taking flight

    When visiting Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, your camera will not go unused. From landscape views to wildlife there are images waiting to be captured. During the winter months waterfowl, especially tundra swans, are a common subject, particularly when viewed from the Wildlife Viewing Window. These graceful birds may be seen swimming and feeding out in the water or flying overhead while calling to each other. If you visit during the summer you may snap a shot of a cottonmouth snake or the graceful great blue heron. Lucky visitors may even capture an image of a bobcat or elusive American bittern.

  • Boating


    Small boats and canoes that can be hand-carried to the Bay's edge are allowed. No launching facilities are available for large boats. Trailers are not permitted at Back Bay NWR Visitor Center Parking area, or at the Horn Point canoe/kayak launch.

  • Bicycling


    The east and west dikes are alternately open to bicyclists on a seasonal basis. Both dikes close for wildlife protection from November through March.