Visitor Activities

  • Hunting

    Turkey - USFWS.

    Blackwater NWR offers annual permitted hunting opportunities for deer, turkey and waterfowl on select areas of the refuge.

    Both state and federal regulations apply including all required licenses and stamps. For information about state hunting regulations, visit Hunt Permit applications are mail-in only. To request a hunt packet containing regulations, maps and applications, contact Hunt Coordinator Allen Johnston at 410-221-8815.

    REMEMBER! Your hunt permit authorizes you to take specified game only. Harming or needlessly disturbing any other wildlife is a violation of Refuge regulations and is cause for prosecution.

    Learn more about hunting on the refuge.

  • Fishing

    Water trails on the refuge - USFWS.

    Fishing and crabbing from boats is allowed when these activities are in season. One exception is the waterway between Route 335 and Shorter’s Wharf Road which is closed October 1 through March 31 to protect migratory waterfowl. To access other waterways on the refuge, small boats may put in at the boat launch site on Route 335 or Shorter’s Wharf Road. The launch on Route 335 cannot support trailers. All boats must be launched by hand. No fishing or crabbing is permitted from the refuge shoreline or the Wildlife Drive; however, visitors can fish/crab near the state-owned bridges located nearby.

    Learn more about fishing on the refuge.

  • Wildlife Viewing

    Painted turtle - Bob Quinn.

    The refuge is renowned for its wildlife observation and photography opportunities. The Wildlife Drive offers excellent views of local wildlife, including waterfowl, shorebirds, turtles, bald eagles, ospreys, and the endangered Delmarva fox squirrel. The Observation Platform can be accessed by turning left at the first fork on the Wildlife Drive. Equipped with spotting scopes which offer a 360° view of the surrounding marsh, this is a prime spot from which to view eagles as they hunt and feed nearby.

    Bird brochure (pdf)
    Mammal brochure (pdf)
    Reptiles & Amphibians brochure (pdf)

  • Interpretation


    Annual Eagle Festival 9am - 4pm, live birds of prey programs, kids' programs and archery range, kids' blue bird box construction, puppet shows, eagle prowls, Wildlife Drive tours, marsh hikes, wildlife exhibits, and food all day.

    Litter Pickup Day/Earth Day Celebration - 9am - 3pm, volunteers are needed to help pick up litter on the Refuge. Meet at the Visitor Center.

    Annual Youth Fishing Day at Hog Range Pond - 9am-1pm, youths 15 and under fishing event, prizes, educational programs, photos, and lots of fun

    View all upcoming events.

  • Environmental Education

    Student looking through binoculars - USFWS.

    The staff and volunteers offer educational programs that can be modified to meet the needs of teachers and students including:

    - Refuge Orientation
    - Guided tours of Wildlife Drive
    - Visitor center tours
    - Habitat explorations
    - Mobile exhibits
    - Assistance to scouts
    - Educational videos

    All programs must be arranged in advance by phoning 410-221-8156 or emailing

    The above listed activities are free to any educational group. Programs can be designed to accommodate young children and special populations. The Wildlife Drive entrance fee is waived for all educational-institution guided tours. The Visitor Center is free to all.

  • Photography

    Monarch butterfly - Bob Quinn.

    Photography is an enormously popular activity at Blackwater NWR. There is something to record in every season, but beginning in late October, as many as 25,000 geese, ducks, and tundra swans stop at the Refuge. Several thousand remain throughout the winter. Up to 20 species of ducks and 250 species of other birds may also be seen, along with several hundred species of plants, 35 species of reptiles and amphibians, and mammals. Migratory songbirds peak in October and again in early May with warblers being most conspicuous and abundant. Many photographers find success along the Wildlife Drive and at the observation platform off the wildlife drive. A photography blind is located along the Wildlife Drive, courtesy of the Friends of the Blackwater.

  • Cycling

    View from wildlife drive - USFWS.

    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)