Visit Us

National wildlife refuges offer us all a chance to unplug from the stresses of daily life and reconnect with our natural surroundings. Located just thirty miles north of Boston, Thacher Island NWR is home to herring and great black-backed gulls. Established in 1972 to provide feeding, resting and nesting habitat for migratory birds, the refuge claims the northern 22-acres of the 52-acre island, located approximately one mile off the coast of Rockport, Massachusetts. Thacher Island also has a rich cultural history, perhaps best symbolized by the twin lighthouses that continue to grace its rocky landscape.


Visitors to the refuge and island can walk along three miles of trails. Wildlife viewing and photography are popular pursuits. It is also possible to climb to the top of one of the lighthouse towers, where commanding views of the island and surrounding ocean makes the climb worth the effort!


A system of trails crisscross the island, traversing both refuge and town land. In all, there are about three miles of trails to enjoy.

Related Documents

Trail Guide

This is the trail map and guide for Thacher Island National Wildlife Refuge.

Other Facilities in the Complex

Rules and Policies

We hope you enjoy your day exploring Thacher Island National Wildlife Refuge, which covers the northern third of Thacher Island.  Please obey these regulations for Thacher Island NWR to help protect the island's historic features and wildlife.


Thacher Island National Wildlife Refuge
C/O Parker River National Wildlife RefugeRockport,MA01966

There are no refuge buildings on the island.

Driving Directions

Although there are scenic trails on both the refuge and town-owned portion of the island, the refuge does not currently provide public access to the island. The island is accessible by kayak or small boats (under appropriate weather and sea conditions). During the summer months the Thacher Island Association operates a boat out of Rockport. Contact the Association at Box 73, Rockport, MA 01966.

Refuge Hours
Every day
Sunrise - Sunset