Mississippi Sandhill crane is a prime destination for bird watching and the last remaining place to view the critically endangered Mississippi sandhill crane as well as other rare and fascinating species. While visiting the refuge we recommend stopping by the Visitor Center to tour the interactive exhibits, view the twelve minute film and chat with our refuge staff and volunteers who can provide helpful information, maps, brochures and checklists. Visitors can also view the thriving wet pine savanna habitat from our center’s observation deck and pick up a trail guide for the ¾ mile C.L. Dees Trail or the 1 mile Fontainebleau Trail. One popular seasonal option are our guided crane tours, which generally run from Late Fall – Late Winter (staffing dependent), and afford one of the best opportunities to see the cranes! Visitors should check at the Visitor Center desk for tour availability.
From wildlife photography, hiking and ranger-guided programs, there are many ways to get to know the refuge! Please check at the front desk for a schedule of activities, trail maps and other suggestions for wildlife viewing activities.
Wildlife observation at Mississippi Sandhill Crane is made easy with nature trails that travel through multiple habitats. From wetlands to savannas, pitcher plant bogs and cypress groves - the refuge trail system offers many opportunities to get into nature.
Other Facilities in the Complex
Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge is managed as part of the Gulf Coast Complex. A National Wildlife Refuge Complex is an administrative grouping of two or more refuges, wildlife management areas or other refuge conservation areas that are primarily managed from a central office location. Refuges are grouped into a complexbecause they occur in a similar ecological region, such as a watershed or specific habitat type, and have a related purpose and management needs. Typically, a project leader or complex manager oversees the general management of all refuges within the complex and refuge managers are responsible for operations at specific refuges. Supporting staff, composed of administrative, law enforcement, refuge manager, biological, fire, visitor services, and maintenance professionals, are centrally located and support all refuges within the complex.
Other refuges in the Gulf Coast Complex include: Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge and Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge Complex headquarters is located at 7200 Crane Lane, Gautier, MS 39553.
Rules and Policies
Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge regulations are designed to protect the cranes, to preserve natural, scenic and wildlife values and to enhance public safety and enjoyment of the refuge. The following is a general summary of refuge regulations.
While visiting the refuge we recommend stopping by the Visitor Center to tour the interactive exhibits, view the twelve minute film and chat with our refuge staff and volunteers who can provide helpful information, maps, brochures and checklists. Visitors can also view the thriving wet pine savanna habitat from our center’s observation deck and pick up a trail guide for the ¾ mile C.L. Dees Trail or the 1 mile Fontainebleau Trail.
The Administrative Office and Visitor Center is located one half mile north of Interstate 10, at Exit 61, off of Gautier-Vancleave Road. The refuge is open to visitors during daylight hours only. As a public health precaution, the visitor center at Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge is temporarily closed for the safety of staff and visitors. The Visitor Center is closed on federal holidays and Christmas Eve.