Guided Birding

Upcoming guided birding tours at Blackwater NWR!

  • Sunday, December 10 with Ron Ketter
  • Saturday, December 16 with Terry Allen (Date change alert: this tour was previously scheduled for Dec. 17)

All tours meet at the refuge Visitor Center at 8:00am. Please see our Events Page for more details.

Hunting Season Closures

A majority of the Wildlife Drive, along with all of the other publicly accessible outdoor areas of the refuge, will be closed on the following dates for deer management hunts:

  • January 5, 2024

The Pool 5 loop on the west end of the Wildlife Drive will remain open free-of-charge. Visitors can enter the Drive about ¼ mile west of the Visitor Center and exit at Route 335. Visitors should note that this portion of the Wildlife Drive, in addition to the Visitor Center, will be the ONLY areas of the refuge open to the public on these dates. Please plan accordingly. For a full listing of trails that will be periodically closed for hunts, please see this document.

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) was established in 1933 as a waterfowl sanctuary for birds migrating along the Atlantic Flyway.
2023-24 Hunting Information

Regulations and dates for the 2023-24 deer and waterfowl hunts can be found on our Hunting Page. Hunting permits are available for purchase at

Visit Us

With over 20,000 acres open for public recreation, you can experience the refuge year round in a variety of ways!  Over 5 miles of hiking trails and 17 miles of paddling trails provide many opportunities to view wildlife in their native habitats. If you prefer to travel by car, we have a 3.6 mile Wildlife Drive popular with photographers and birders alike, which is also suitable for hiking and cycling. And speaking of cycling, the many miles of flat, low-traffic roads in southern Dorchester County are perfect for picturesque rides for cyclists of all abilities. In addition, nearly 15,000 acres are open for deer hunting from September through January, with opportunities for waterfowl and spring turkey hunting as well. Click the link below to find out more about visitor activities, and see this page for directions and hours.

Location and Contact Information

      About Us

      Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, located 12 miles south of Cambridge, Maryland, was established in 1933 as a refuge for migratory birds. Habitats of the refuge include rich tidal marsh, mixed hardwood and loblolly pine forests, managed freshwater wetlands and croplands. It serves as an important resting and feeding area for migrating and wintering waterfowl, and is one of the chief wintering areas for Canada geese using the Atlantic Flyway. The refuge supports one of the highest concentrations of nesting bald eagles on the Atlantic coast.

      Our Species

      Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is home to an incredible amount of plant and animal diversity in its three major habitats – forest, marsh and shallow water. The refuge contains one-third of Maryland's tidal wetlands, which makes it an ecologically important area within the state. It serves as an important resting and feeding area for migrating and wintering waterfowl, and is one of the chief wintering areas for Canada geese using the Atlantic Flyway. Blackwater NWR is home to the largest natural population of formerly endangered Delmarva peninsula fox squirrels and is also home to the largest breeding population of American bald eagles on the East Coast, north of Florida.

      Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrel

      This large, slate grey tree squirrel (Sciurus niger cinereus) has an unusually full, fluffy tail and white belly. Larger than common gray squirrels, this fox squirrel subspecies measures up to 28 inches long and weighs up to three pounds. Once found throughout the Delmarva Peninsula, the range...

      FWS Focus
      Bald eagle up close with wing raised

      A large raptor, the bald eagle has a wingspread of about seven feet. Adults have a dark brown body and wings, white head and tail, and a yellow beak. Juveniles are mostly brown with white mottling on the body, tail, and undersides of wings. Adult plumage usually is obtained by the sixth year. In...

      FWS Focus

      Our Library

      View collections of information about Blackwater NWR, including visitor publications and past hunting regulations.