Visitor Activities

bathouse with Ranger and audience

The Lower Suwannee will engage you in a variety of recreational activities.  Wildlife observation and photography provide a window into the lives of our feathered and furry friends.  Hunting and fishing provide food and sport while our volunteer-led walks and activities connect visitors to the Refuge in an intimate way.

  • Hunting

    hunter with officer on a sign

    Hunting is an important wildlife management tool that we recognize as a healthy, traditional outdoor pastime, deeply rooted in America’s heritage.  Hunting can instill a unique understanding and appreciation of wildlife, their behavior, and their habitat needs. As practiced at the Lower Suwannee, hunting, and fishing do not pose a threat to wildlife populations, and in some instances are necessary for sound wildlife management.  For example, because their natural predators like the Florida panther are no longer here, but in south Florida, deer populations will often grow too large for the refuge habitat to support.

    Our Hunting program can promote understanding and appreciation of natural resources and their management on Refuge lands. 

    To find out more about hunting opportunities, seasons and regulations here, click here for the free information about the Lower Suwannee NWR Hunt brochure/Permit. To purchase a Refuge Permit to hunt, go to FWC Lower Suwannee.

  • Fishing

    Father and daughter fishing

    In addition to the conservation of wildlife and habitat, the Refuge System offers a wide variety of quality fishing opportunities.  Fishing programs promote understanding and appreciation of natural resources and their management on all lands and waters in the Refuge System.  Every year, about 7 million anglers visit national wildlife refuges, where knowledgeable staff and thousands of volunteers help them have a wonderful fishing experience.

    Quality fishing opportunities are available from the Shell Mound Pier, shore and bank fishing at Shell Mound and Shired Island, tidal creeks, and ponds (barrow pits) on the Nature Drive, or at the nearby Cedar Keys NWR.

    For a great place to reconnect with a favorite childhood activity or to try it for the first time, make plans to fish at a national wildlife refuge soon.  Find more information with our on-line Guide to Fishing on National Wildlife Refuge.

  • Wildlife Viewing

    gator on a log / USFWS

    If you enjoy getting outdoors and looking for wildlife, consider a visit the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge!  From Birding to watching otters play, from seeing white tail deer jump, to spotting slow-moving box turtles, wildlife observation is the most popular activity for Refuge visitors.  Both the Nature Drive in Levy County and the historic Dixie Mainline in Dixie County take you into the uplands and swamps, across tidal creeks and out to the Gulf.  Dawn and dusk are the best times to see wildlife behavior, but watch the time. the Refuge closes at dark.

    For more information about wildlife observation opportunities at the Lower Suwannee NWR, call 352/493-0238.

  • Interpretation

    Ranger interpreting Shell Mound

    Refuge interpretation programs provide opportunities for visitors to make their own connections to the natural world.  From self-guided walks to Ranger-led programs, we help visitors learn more about the wildlife and habitat behind the landscapes.

    In addition to staff and volunteers presenting programs to audiences, we provide a variety of wayside signs, brochures, and webpages to communicate natural history stories to visitors.  Printed and virtual information is often available on many topics, including plants and animals, seasonal migrations, habitats, refuge management strategies, and endangered species.

    Through our interpretation programs, you can learn why nearly all of the critically endangered Whooping Cranes spend the winter at St Mark's National Wildlife Refuge in Florida, or about the beneficial role of fire to encourage native vegetation to grow at Lower Suwannee NWR, and other interesting and informative stories.

  • Environmental Education

    Kids studying water quality / USFWS

    National Wildlife Refuges serve many purposes, and one of our most important roles is as outdoor classrooms to teach about wildlife and natural resources.  Our Ranger offers environmental education programs for a variety of audiences.  Refuges provide unique and exciting outdoor environments – excellent locations for hands-on learning activities.  Our classroom is well equipped with outdoor learning tools for kids from 5-15:  microscopes, spotting scope, binoculars, mounted native species, water quality test kits, and much more.

    Is your school, student, youth or environmental club, or other group interested in learning more about the wildlife, plants, habitats and ecology of the area?  Contact the Ranger at 352/493-0238 to check on program availability and reservation policies.  Refuges are wild places, and we want to teach you more about them!

  • Photography

    Kids taking photos

    Perhaps the fastest growing activity at the Lower Suwannee NWR in the past ten years has been wildlife photography.  That’s not surprising – the digital camera explosion and cell phones with ever-improving capabilities are increasing the number of nature photographers at a rapid rate. You don’t need to purchase expensive equipment or have any experience to get started.  A small camera or basic cell phone will do just fine for most visitors.

    The Refuge provides enhanced opportunities to photograph wildlife in natural habitats by providing observation platforms, brochures, interpreters, and nature drives.  Wildlife photography is a high-priority activity in the Refuge System.  We welcome beginning and expert photographers alike to record their outdoor adventures.  If you'd like to  share them with us, you might see your credited shots on our webpages.