Refuges Big Winners in USAToday Contests


April 6, 2016 – Eleven refuges are among the top 10 places to see wildlife, birds and aquatic life in the United States, according to a USAToday-10 Best Contest.

Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the Gulf Coast of Texas was the hands-down winner for birding. Marsh birds and huge numbers of ruby-throated hummingbirds, plus a resident population of wintering whooping cranes, make this refuge a must-see for bird lovers. Also in the top 10: Bosque del Apache Refuge, NM; Cape May Refuge, NJ; Ottawa Refuge, OH (May is the peak month to see warblers here); and  Kīlauea Point, HI.

Kīlauea Point Refuge was also one of the top 10 sites to see aquatic lifeCrystal River Refuge, FL, placed third on this list – largely because of its popular manatees – and J. N. “Ding” Darling Refuge, also in Florida, is a good place to see roseate spoonbills, pelicans and alligators.

Wichita Mountains Refuge, OK, was named the best spot to view wildlife, such as its population of 500 bison as well as elk, deer, longhorn cattle and lizards.  Also in the top 10 are Kodiak Refuge, AK, and Rocky Mountain Arsenal Refuge, CO.

The canoe shelters at Okefenokee Refuge, GA, are among the most scenic campgrounds in the country.  In Houston, Buffalo Bayou Park was named one of the best city parks in the U.S.  As an urban partnership project, Brazoria Refuge and the Friends of Brazoria restored habitat in a section of Buffalo Bayou Park so visitors could see what the bayou was like before Houston was settled.

Cranes Aransas Refuge, TX, the top place to see birds, is home to a resident flock of whooping cranes. 
Photo: USFWS

Manatee face
Crystal River Refuge, FL, is among the top ten places to see aquatic life - especially manatees.
Photo: Tracy Colson/USFWS
More photos here.