Facility Activities

With over 20,000 acres open for public recreation, you can experience the refuge year round in a variety of ways!  From 5 miles of hiking to 17 miles of paddling, we have a variety of experiences.  Nearly 15,000 acres are open for deer hunting from September through January.  If you prefer to travel by car, we have 3.6 mile wildlife drive popular with photographers and birders alike. 

If you hear what sounds like an elk bugle coming from the marshes of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, you aren't imagining things. The shrill bugle is coming from a sika, a small Asian elk species that thrives at this refuge. Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge offers fantastic hunting for...

Can I fish at the refuge?

Yes, recreational fishing and crabbing are permitted at the refuge, but there are restrictions. Maryland state regulations apply while fishing and crabbing on the refuge. No special refuge permits are required; however, a valid state ...

The Wildlife Drive takes visitors along the Blackwater River and offers excellent views of the refuge. Visitors can drive, bike, or walk the approximately 4 mile paved road, and turnouts are available at different points to safely stop and observe the scenery. Brief stopping outside of the...

Blackwater NWR offers several bike routes for the novice to experienced cyclist. Visitors can choose to complete an approximate 4-mile or 7-mile loop route along the paved Wildlife Drive. Blackwater NWR also has maps for 20-mile and 25-mile routes that follow county roads through the varied...

At Blackwater NWR, the best time for viewing waterfowl is between mid-October and mid-March. Wintering species include tundra swans, Canada and snow geese, and over 20 species of ducks. The most common ducks found here are mallards, black ducks, blue-winged teal, green-winged teal, wigeon, and...

The waters in and around the refuge can be accessed at several locations managed by the refuge, Dorchester County Highway Dept., and Maryland DNR. Be aware that navigation can be difficult, especially in the Blackwater River, due to submerged mudflats, a meandering unmarked channel, and shallow...

There are 3 paddling trails on the refuge: the Green Trail (upper Blackwater River) the Purple Trail (central Blackwater River), and the Orange Trail (central Blackwater River and Coles Creek). A map of the refuge water trails can be found below.

Water trails are open daily, dawn to...

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge currently has four land trails: the Marsh Edge Trail, the Woods Trail, the Key Wallace Trail, and the Tubman Road Trail.

Trails are open daily, dawn to dusk. The Marsh Edge Trail is closed from mid-winter through mid-summer to limit disturbance to...

Photography is an enormously popular activity at Blackwater NWR. There is something to record in every season, but beginning in late October, as many as 25,000 geese, ducks, and tundra swans stop at the Refuge. Several thousand remain throughout the winter. Up to 20 species of ducks and 250...

Please Note: Due to COVID-19, all in-person educational programs are limited at this time. Because of COVID-related to restrictions on group sizes and our limited staffing, we are evaluating all educational requests as we receive them.

Blackwater National Wildlife...

Trapping is a wildlife management tool used on some national wildlife refuges. Trapping may be used to protect endangered and threatened species or migratory birds or to control certain wildlife populations. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also views trapping as a legitimate recreational and...

With four walking trails, three water trails and an auto tour route (Wildlife Drive), the refuge is renowned for its wildlife observation and photography opportunities. The Wildlife Drive offers excellent views of local wildlife, including waterfowl, shorebirds, turtles, bald eagles, ospreys,...