Plan Your Visit


Great White Heron NWR is truly one of nature's masterpieces.  It is a national treasure, a fragile ecosystem where we are visitors who must do our part to protect these incredible natural resources.

Map & Regulations for Great White Heron NWR

Address and Contact Information

Administration and Office (this is the mailing address for Great White Heron NWR:

Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges Complex
28950 Watson Blvd.
Big Pine Key, FL 33043
Phone- 305-872-2239
Hours- by appointment 

 Nature Center: (no mailing address at this location)

National Key Deer Refuge (the Visitor Center for all the Florida Keys NWR's including Great White Heron NWR)
30587 Overseas Highway (U.S. 1)
Big Pine Key, FL 33043
Open 9-4 Mon-Fri, 10-3 Weekends (when volunteers available)  (Nature Center currently closed due to Covid)


Refuge Trail Map with Information Tearsheet


 Know Before You Go 

The islands and marine waters that make up the Great White Heron NWR are often referred to as the “backcountry”.  The backcountry consists of hundreds of islands (keys) scattered amidst the biologically rich waters of Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.  With few exceptions these islands are pristine, uninhabited islands in federal ownership .  These islands are a haven for a wide array of wildlife, from nesting sea turtles to bald eagles.  Many of these keys have been designated part of the National Wilderness System.

Great White Heron NWR  stretches from north of Marathon (90 miles SW of Miami) to north of Key West, FL (130 miles SW of Miami)., a distance of approximately 50 miles. 

The best place to start your visit is the Visitor Center on Big Pine Key.  It is open daily during the week from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and 10 a.m. -3 p.m. on weekends.  The Visitor Center is accessible to all, and staffed with volunteers and refuge personnel who can answer questions and provide information.  The visitor center is also home to our Friends group’s nature store, filled with nature-oriented books and gifts.  Proceeds directly benefit the Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges.