Visitor Activities

Boyscouts looking through binoculars
  • Hunting



    White-tailed Deer Hunt 

    Hunting on the refuge is offered by permit for white-tailed deer, as well as fall turkey, and coyote (if seasons align with the hunt date). The refuge allows stand hunting only and the use of hunting dogs is prohibited. We offer permits for three days of shotgun hunting. Hunters must apply for lottery by creating an account with RecAccess and applying for the Presquile NWR Quota Hunt. Application fee is $5.00 (non-refundable) and, if selected the permit is $20.00 (for selectee and one guest). Boat access to the island is NOT provided.

  • Wildlife Viewing

    Wildlife Viewing

    Excellent wildlife viewing, particularly for eagles, osprey, and great blue herons, is available from all points of the water surrounding the refuge. Once on the island, the three-miles of trails and boardwalks further your observation opportunities to more terrestrial species- mammals, reptiles, and invertebrates. A fifteen foot tall observation platform supports high bluff views over the river and sweeping landscape vistas of the island.

    Please remember to keep a safe distance from wildlife as to not disturb them from their natural routines. Feeding of wildlife is strictly prohibited.

  • Interpretation


    The refuge occasionally offers opportunities for the public to visit the island with US Fish and Wildlife Service staff as your guide. Pontoon boat tours, if scheduled, requires pre-registration.  The trips interpret the rich history of the Refuge and highlight the unique environment used by many native species. Additionally, "Field Day” is hosted by the refuge in the Fall (though cancelled for 2020). This special day provides visitors with scheduled boat access to and from the island throughout the day. The days are filled with nature walks, canoe trips, and special family programs.

  • Environmental Education

    Environmental Education

    The refuge has the great pleasure of serving as partner and host to the James River Ecology School. The School is administered through the James River Association, a 501(c)(3) watershed organization. This immersive environmental education program focuses on connecting students with the science that creates the wonders of nature. The School is operated out of the Menenak Discovery Center and the newly constructed bunkhouse. These facilities are merely staging areas, as the trails and outdoor interactive experiences are the heart of the School. For information on how to enroll in a class, please visit

  • Photography


    The refuge’s forested riparian habitat along the James River and interior creeks are used by bald eagles and osprey for nesting and perching. The tall trees extend prominently at the water’s edge and allow for excellent photographic opportunity. The birds are easily flushed, therefore zoom cameras are recommended. Eagles are observed throughout the year. Osprey typically migrate in late summer and return in early spring.

    On the refuge nature photographers capture shots of the tranquil landscapes of the island. To the keen observer the marsh boardwalk and water trail showcase a variety of frogs, turtles, and dragon-flies.