Visitor Activities

Visitor Activities 512x219

Fishing, birding, hiking, wildlife observation, photography, and hunting opportunities abound for visitors at Santee NWR!

  • Hunting


    Seasonal opportunities for hunting white-tailed deer are available at the Bluff, Cuddo, and Pine Island Units of the refuge.  Hunters from all over the state come out to the woods of Santee in the hopes of harvesting a deer or feral hog.  No alligator hunting or waterfowl hunting permitted within refuge boundaries.  Be sure of your location and the refuge boundary when hunting on the waters of Lake Marion.  

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  • 2017 Solar Eclipse

    Santee Eclipse

    On August 21, over 6,000 visitors flocked to Santee National Wildlife Refuge to witness a total eclipse of the sun. Visitor John Abbott photographically captured the progression of the moon passing in front of the sun and offered to share it with us. Thank you, John! Enjoy!

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  • Santee Indian Mound/Fort Watson


    The Santee Indian Mound dates back over 1000 years, a mound used as a substructure of a ceremonial temple and also as a burial site.  After the Native Americans dispersed from the banks of the Santee River in the early 1700s, the mound was used for a second purpose nearly 70 years later, as a British outpost during the Revolutionary War.  This outpost was utilized to monitor the rivers and roads as cargo and troops traveled between Charleston and Camden.  Brig. General Francis Marion and Lt. Colonel Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee took over Fort Watson in an 8 day battle, using a tower designed by Major Maham of Marion’s legion.  

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  • Fishing


    Located on the banks of the largest lake in South Carolina (Lake Marion), Santee National Wildlife Refuge has great fishing opportunities.  Whether you are bank fishing or fishing from a boat, there are opportunities to catch a wide variety of freshwater fish species.  Lake Marion is well-known in the fishing community for having several state record-sized fish caught here - come out today and try your luck!

    Santee National Wildlife Refuge Fishing Regulations Brochure

  • Birding


    Birding is a popular activity for refuge visitors during the Spring and Fall migrations.  Excellent birding opportunities exist on all four units of the refuge.  A walk along the one-mile Wrights Bluff Nature Trail affords visitors the chance to observe songbirds, wading birds, and several species of waterfowl. Dingle Pond is home to a Carolina Bay and provides unique habitat for several wetland species including a great diversity of songbirds, wading birds, and waterfowl.  Visitors may utilize a one-mile trail with an observation tower and boardwalk to get a closer look at wildlife.


    The Pine Island and Cuddo Units provide the greatest diversity of habitats of the four units. Visitor access on Pine Island is limited to foot and bicycle traffic only.  A 7-1/2 mile wildlife drive on the Cuddo Unit provides numerous wildlife observation opportunities with access to miles of hiking and bicycling trails.

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  • Hiking


    Hiking and bicycling trails are found on each of the 4 units of the refuge.  Nearly 40 miles of trails can be found on the refuge for visitors to enjoy.

    10.5 miles of hiking trail

    12.9 miles hiking or bicycling trail

    7.5 miles – Wildlife Drive

    8.25 miles of canoeing/kayaking trails


    A section of the Palmetto Trail (SC state through trail organized by the Palmetto Conservation Foundation) runs through the refuge.  The primary portion of this trail is maintained by the PCF by means of a special use permit and volunteer agreement.  

  • Wildlife Observation


    Wildlife observation is one of the primary public uses of National Wildlife Refuges.  Getting out and learning to identify wildlife species in their native habitat can be very exciting and rewarding.  The refuge has 2 observation towers (Bluff Unit and Dingle Pond Unit) as well as several other areas that are great for spotting wildlife.  It is recommended that visitors bring a pair of binoculars and a field guide when visiting the refuge, but in case you forget, stop by the visitor center and take advantage of the loaner program the refuge has available.  

  • Photography


    Santee offers great photography opportunities.  Check out the National Wildlife Refuge's page on wildlife photography for some tips and tricks before your next visit to the refuge!