Facility Activities

There is plenty to do here at J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge!

Open 7am- 5pm but CLOSED FRIDAYS, come drive, hike, or bike through the 4-mile Wildlife Drive. There are three trails that can be accessed from Wildlife Drive: Indigo Trail which leads to the Wildlife Education Boardwalk (4 miles round trip), Calusa Shell Mound Trail (CLOSED for repairs), and...

Boating is allowed in the Refuge in designated areas; however, the Refuge has some restricted access areas including a No Motor Zone and a Pole/Troll Zone. Be sure to consult the refuge Fishing and Boating brochure for closed areas and non-motorized zones.

The Visitor & Education Center features interactive exhibits on refuge ecosystems, the work of Jay Norwood "Ding" Darling, migratory flyways, the National Wildlife Refuge System, and a hands-on area for children. The Center hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. but closed on Fridays and all...

Refuge waters include Tarpon Bay and mangrove estuary on the north side of Sanibel and the Sanibel River at the Bailey Tract. The estuary provides excellent boat fishing year-round. Wildlife Drive provides good shore fishing and crabbing opportunities year-round. The Bailey Tract provides...

Given that the Refuge is part of the largest mangrove ecosystem in the United States, it is the perfect location for birds to feed, nest, and roost. The Refuge is home to over 245 species of birds. Would you like to know which bird species have been seen recently throughout the Refuge? We are...

Photography is welcomed! Learn more about filming activities in the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Biking is a good way to see wildlife, learn about habitats and photograph nature. Yield to pedestrians; many refuge routes are multi-use trails. Biking may be permitted at sites where it is consistent with a refuge’s statutory purpose. E-bikes are permitted on any refuge roads and trails where traditional bicycle use is allowed, if it is consistent with a refuge’s statutory purpose and the refuge manager determines it to be a compatible use.
Boats provide the best way to see many refuges. Some refuges limit the use of motorboats to certain areas, subject to restrictions on engine size.
Many sites do not allow dogs because they can disturb wildlife. Refuges that do allow dogs generally require that they be leashed. Some sites allow hunters and sledders to bring dogs.
Take your pick of 2,100 miles of refreshing trails and boardwalks. Whether you want a short, easy walk or a challenging hike, you’re likely to find what you want. Some trails are paved and universally accessible. Some trails include displays on visual arts, local history and culture or environmental education.
Painting and sketching in nature is possible at nearly all sites open to the public. Sometimes, sites host public displays of artworks created on the refuge.
Rangers lead wildlife walks, tours and educational programs at many sites. Events may focus on wildflowers or birds or on seasonal spectacles, such as elk bugling or sea turtle nesting. Some programs may be limited in size or require advance registration. See individual websites for details.
Many refuges champion wildlife viewing as a key recreational activity.