Savannah National Wildlife Refuge, established April 6, 1927, consists of 29,452 acres of freshwater marshes, tidal rivers and creeks, and bottomland hardwoods. About half the refuge is bottomland, composed primarily of cypress, gum, and maple species. Access to these areas is by boat only.
The 3,000 acres of freshwater impoundments managed for migratory waterfowl were formerly the rice fields of plantations dating back to the mid or late 1700's. Many of the dikes enclosing these pools were originally built during the rice culture era.
All dikes are open to foot travel during daylight hours, unless otherwise posted, and provide excellent wildlife observation points. Waterfowl are most abundant from November through February, while alligators and other reptiles are frequently seen from March through October. Birdwatching opportunities are good all year, but are best from October through April when temperatures are mild and many species of waterfowl and other wintering birds are present.
Motorists are welcome on the Laurel Hill Wildlife Drive, off of S.C. 170, which meanders along four miles of earthen dikes through managed freshwater pools and hardwood hammocks. Many hiking and biking trails are also available to the visiting public. Visitors can also enjoy other wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities such as hunting and fishing which are allowed at certain times of the year (please refer to hunting and fishing regulations).
The Savannah NWR Visitor Center is located on U.S. 17, seven miles north of downtown Savannah, Georgia or seven miles south of I-95 at Hardeeville, South Carolina.