Visitor Activities

Change is constant at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. Seasons, life cycles, and migrating animals make each visit to the refuge a new experience. There are a multitude of opportunities to interact with wildlife at Wheeler. What will your next visit unveil?



  • Hunting



    Hunting is an important wildlife management tool that the National Refuge System recognizes 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. At Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge hunting does not pose a threat to wildlife populations, and in some instances are necessary for sound wildlife management. 

    Find out more about hunting opportunities, seasons and regulations at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge...


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  • Fishing

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    Most of the refuge’s waters are open year-round for fishing by boat, from the bank, or from the universally accessible fishing pier.  Some areas may be closed seasonally to provide sanctuaries for waterfowl and other wildlife.  Anglers can fish for bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, crappie, sauger, and catfish.  Fishing must be in accordance with State and refuge regulations.  A refuge permit is not required.


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  • Wildlife Viewing



    Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge is a great place to view and photograph a variety of wildlife, including waterfowl, cranes, deer, amphibians and birds.

    During the winter, the refuge is home to thousands of Sandhill cranes and a small number of Whooping cranes.  Tens of thousands of ducks and geese also winter here and can be seen throughout the refuge. The fall and spring migrations bring numerous songbirds and wading birds to the refuge.


  • Interpretation



    Interpretation programs provide opportunities for visitors to make their own connections to the dynamic world of Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. In addition to staff and volunteers presenting programs to audiences, there is a variety of exhibits, signs, brochures, and electronic media available for you to learn more about the refuge's natural and cultural history.


  • Environmental Education

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    Refuges provide unique and exciting outdoor classrooms – excellent locations for hands-on learning activities. The refuge staff, volunteers and Friends of Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge offer educational programs to students of all ages.

    Lesson plans and additional materials from our Environmental Education Program, as well as tips for teachers and how to schedule a refuge visit are available here...

    Alabama K-12th grade students can also participate in the annual Junior Duck Stamp Art Contest and teachers can use its associated curriculum.

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  • Photography


    Perhaps the fastest growing activity on national wildlife refuges in the past ten years has been wildlife photography. 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.  Photographing requires spending time out in nature and a healthy does of patience.  A small photo blind near the visitor center that overlooks a field can be used on a first come, first served basis.

  • Hiking


    One of the best ways to experience the refuge is to leave your car behind and start walking. Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge has walking opportunities for all ages and abilities, including two accessible trails at the Visitor Center.

    Find a trail that is just right for you...

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  • Boating


    Access to some areas of Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge is by boat only. Bring your kayak, canoe or motorized boat to visit small isolated islands or wide open bays.  The refuge has six improved launching areas and several unimproved ramps at various locations for smaller boats and canoes.  Check out the Canoe and Kayak Guide for more a few popular paddling locations on the refuge.

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  • Bicycling


    Exploring the refuge roads on a bicycle is a healthy way to travel and with over a hundred miles of roadway, the opportunities are endless.  There are numerous road access points throughout the refuge.  Visitors, whether walking or on a bike, are allowed around closed gates except in areas posted closed to all entry.  


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  • Family Activities


    Engaging young bodies and minds is crucial to the future of wildlife. At Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge there are easy ways to integrate and inspire all individuals in your group. Involve the senses of young children on a short walk, give your teens a physical or intellectual challenge, or get the whole family involved in learning something new.

  • Horseback Riding


    Horseback riding is allowed on all roadways open to vehicles within Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge.  Horses are not allowed behind any closed gates.

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