Visitor Activities

Refuge visitors viewing wildlife through binoculars - Ray Cramer.
  • Hunting

    Two young hunters with their catch - Jim Holowienka.

    Ample opportunity for hunting is provided at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge. Deer drives are prohibited and therefore hunters will have less pressure and most likely a quality hunting experience. Hunting from a small boat or canoe might be a consideration if you are looking for a unique experience. Currently, the refuge has three separate seasons for which a permit is required; white-tailed deer, wild turkey and migratory bird. Approximately 6000 acres are accessible to hunters with an area designated for archery only as well as a reserved area for handicapped hunters. For complete information and instructions on obtaining a refuge hunt permit, visit our hunt page.

  • Fishing

    Father and son holding their catch - USFWS.

    Fishing access on the Wallkill River is provided at Bassett’s Bridge in New Jersey and Oil City Road in New York. Carp and catfish are a common catch along the river banks. From a canoe or small boat, small mouth bass, pickerel and perch are the most likely catch. Within the refuge boundary is 10 miles of the Wallkill River which is not trout stocked.

  • Wildlife Viewing

    Wildlife Viewing

    Five nature trails offer various opportunities to view many types of wildlife, but the Liberty Loop is the most popular destination. The trail encircles managed wetland impoundments which attract large numbers of resident and migratory birds throughout the year. The spring and fall migrations bring in thousands of waterfowl, while songbirds and wading birds such as the great blue heron and indigo bunting are common in summer. The fall sparrow migration is impressive, and winter is prime for raptors such as the northern harrier, rough-legged hawk and short-eared owl. An elevated observation platform and observation blind facilitate viewing opportunities.

  • Interpretation

    Winter raptors talk - USFWS.

    The refuge offers public programs and guided walks throughout the year. Topics and offerings may vary; information on upcoming programs may be found on our events page.

    The refuge hosts two specific programs annually. The raptor program (held between Christmas and New Years) features rehabilitated birds that cannot be released back into the wild, and is followed by guided observation. The two-day free fishing event (held in June) coincides with the NJ’s free fishing days. One day is reserved for the general public and the other is for disabled veterans and their families. The timing of these events makes them very popular for families as well as any outdoor enthusiast.

  • Environmental Education

    Students involved in environmental education in the Wallkill River - USFWS.

    The refuge does not have an active environmental education program, but tries where possible to accommodate local students and teachers hoping to connect their studies with the refuge environment. Examples include biology students from the State University of New York (Orange) who come to the refuge to participate in activities such as vernal pool monitoring and wildlife observation, and High Point High School science club students who visit the refuge once a month to participate in various field projects.

  • Photography


    Wildlife photography is a very popular activity on the refuge. Though all public access areas are available to photographers, the Liberty Loop Trail parking area is the most popular destination. Wintering raptors such as red-tailed hawk, rough-legged hawk, northern harrier and short-eared owl are very commonly sought and captured as subjects. In warmer months, great blue heron, green heron, indigo bunting and Eastern bluebirds are widely photographed in many areas. Butterflies, dragonflies and wildflowers can also be found and photographed throughout the refuge.

  • Canoe / Kayak

    Kayaking on the Wallkill River - USFWS.

    One of the best ways to see the Wallkill River NWR is by canoe or kayak. You will experience the great diversity of habitats that makes the refuge unique. Canoeing takes you through beautiful floodplain forests, wet meadows which are maintained by seasonal flooding, and under tall rock cliffs. Water levels in the river fluctuate seasonally.

    Learn more on our canoeing and kayaking page.