Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge

Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge was officially established in 1963 “for use as an inviolate sanctuary, or for any other management purpose, for migratory birds.”
Portions of Fowler Beach to Close for 2023 Nesting Season

Portions of the Fowler Beach area of Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) including the bay beach, dunes and back barrier portions will close beginning March 1st for the benefit of federally and state protected  beach nesting and migratory shorebirds, including red knot, piping plover, oystercatcher, least tern and other species.

When visiting Prime Hook NWR beaches during  nesting season, please remember to obey all posted signs and barriers.  

  • Dog walking is always prohibited.
  • Closed areas are subject to change and/or modification at any time.
  • The beach nesting habitat will re-open on October 1st for visitor use.

For more information, please call (302) 684-8419

Visit Us

National wildlife refuges offer us all a chance to unplug from the stresses of daily life and reconnect with our natural surroundings. Prime Hook, east of Washington DC, is a globally renowned place for nature photography and birding. There are several ways to enjoy the refuge. You can explore displays at the visitor center, where volunteers will answer questions. You can drive the four county roads that bisect the refuge’s marshes, or walk on the 7.5 miles of hiking trails of varying distances and degrees of difficulty. The refuge’s annual Horseshoe Crab Festival each May is an outdoor recreation highlight of spring in Delaware. 

Location and Contact Information

      Our Species

      The refuge was created to safeguard and enhance the pristine wildlife habitat of coastal Delaware, to protect threatened  and endangered species, and to provide feeding, nesting, and roosting areas for migratory birds. Today, the refuge provides important habitat to over 245 species of birds. 

      A group of juvenile and adult red knot forage along the shoreline.

      Length: 25-28 cm. Adults in spring: Above finely mottled with grays, black and light ochre, running into stripes on crown; throat, breast and sides of head cinnamon-brown; dark gray line through eye; abdomen and undertail coverts white; uppertail coverts white, barred with black. Adults in...

      FWS Focus
      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

      Get Involved

      Whether you want to further conservation, learn more about nature or share your love of the outdoors, you’ve come to the right place. National wildlife refuges provide many opportunities for you to help your community and fish and wildlife by doing what you love. 
      National wildlife refuges partner with volunteers, youth groups, landowners, neighbors and residents of urban and coastal communities to make a lasting difference. 
      Find out how you can help make American lands healthier and communities stronger while doing something personally satisfying. 
      Volunteers: Gain new experiences and meet new people while helping to advance wildlife conservation. 

      Friends: Join neighbors in helping refuges restore habitat and expand access to green space. 

      Landowners: Learn how you can partner with the Fish and Wildlife Service to voluntarily restore land. 

      Local Groups: Find out how communities can work with refuges better for wildlife and people.  

      Youth: Explore paid and unpaid opportunities to learn and develop leadership skills." 

      Projects and Research

      Wildlife conservation is at the heart of the National Wildlife Refuge System. It drives everything on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lands and waters managed within the Refuge System, from the purposes for which a national wildlife refuge national wildlife refuge
      A national wildlife refuge is typically a contiguous area of land and water managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  for the conservation and, where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

      Learn more about national wildlife refuge
      is established to the recreational activities offered to the resource management tools used. Using conservation best practices, the Refuge System manages Service lands and waters to help ensure the survival of native wildlife species.