Visitor Activities


With the passage of the National Wildlife Refuge Improvement Act in 1997, six wildlife-dependent recreational activities are often managed on refuges as long as they are determined to be compatible, legitimate and appropriate public uses of the refuge. Hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, photography, environmental education, and interpretation are often referred to as the "big six". Turnbull offers five of the big six including a large and diverse environmental education and interpretation program, great wildlife viewing and photography opportunities, and a limited entry elk hunting program initiated in 2010 to protect the riparian habitat of the refuge.

  • Environmental Education

    Discovery School

    National Wildlife Refuges serve many purposes, and one of our most important roles is as outdoor classrooms to teach about wildlife and natural resources.  Many refuges offer environmental education programs for a variety of audiences.  Refuges provide unique and exciting outdoor environments – excellent locations for hands-on learning activities.  Thousands of youth and adult groups visit every year to learn about a specific topic on wildlife, habitat, or ecological processes.

    Is your school, youth, environmental or other group interested in learning more about the wildlife, plants, habitats and ecology of a particular national wildlife refuge?  Contact or visit Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge to check on program availability and reservation policies.  Refuges are wild places, and we want to teach you more about them!

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  • Interpretation

    Headquarter's Kiosk

    Refuge System interpretation programs provide opportunities for visitors to make their own connections to the natural world.  From self-guided walks to refuge staff and volunteer led programs, many national wildlife refuges help visitors learn more about the wildlife and habitat behind the landscapes.

    In addition to staff and volunteers presenting programs to audiences, refuges use a variety of exhibits, signs, brochures, and electronic media 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.

  • Wildlife Viewing

    Seacoast binoculars

    If you enjoy getting outdoors and looking for wildlife, consider a visit to your nearest national wildlife refuge!  From birding to whale watching, from viewing speedy pronghorn antelope or slow-moving box turtles, wildlife observation is the most popular activity for refuge visitors.

    From every state and all parts of the globe, about 40 million people visit each year, especially for the chance to see concentrations of wildlife and birds. The National Wildlife Refuge System’s extensive trail system, boardwalks, observation decks, hunting and photography blinds, fishing piers and boat launches encourage visitors to discover America’s best wildlife spectacles. Contact us for more information about wildlife observation opportunities at Turnbull NWR.

  • Photography

    Wildlife Photography

    Perhaps the fastest growing activity on national wildlife refuges in the past ten years has been wildlife photography.  That’s not surprising – the digital camera population explosion and cell phones with ever-improving picture-taking abilities 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.

    Nearly 12 million people visit outdoor areas each year to photograph wildlife, and national wildlife refuges naturally are at the top of the list.  Refuges provide enhanced opportunities to photograph wildlife in natural habitats by providing platforms, brochures, interpreters, viewing areas, and tour routes.  Wildlife photography is a high-priority activity in the Refuge System.  We welcome beginning and expert photographers alike to record their outdoor adventures on film, memory card or internal hard drive! 

  • Hunting


    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 on refuges, hunting, trapping 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 are gone, deer populations will often grow too large for the refuge habitat to support.

    Hunting programs can promote understanding and appreciation of natural resources and their management on lands and waters in the Refuge System. To find out more about hunting opportunities, seasons and regulations on Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge, contact the refuge manager.

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  • Fishing

    Speckled Dace Promo 150x118

    Historically, all of Turnbull's wetlands with the exception Pine Creek were fishless. This condition resulted in an aquatic ecosystem based on the absence of a significant vertebrate predator. The Refuge has no intention to plant nonnative fish since maintaining the biodiversity and proper function of Turnbull wetlands requires that they remain fishless as they were historically. 
    Quality fishing opportunities are available on other national wildlife refuges.  Find more information with our on-line Guide to Fishing on National Wildlife Refuge.

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