National Wildlife Refuge System

Visit Your National Wildlife Refuges

Refuges are perfect places for outdoor fun.
Refuges are perfect places for outdoor fun.
Credit: USFWS

Celebrate America’s great outdoors with a visit to a national wildlife refuge during National Wildlife Refuge Week, October 9-15. You will see for yourself that refuges conserve some of our nation’s most cherished natural treasures: wildlife and wild places.

"National wildlife refuges play a critical role in preserving America’s rich wildlife legacy,” says U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “They also have an important role in human communities. By providing healthy habitats for wildlife, refuges improve water quality, relieve flooding, improve soil quality and help trap greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. And in the urban, fast-paced world in which many of us live, refuges offer places that can soothe the body and soul."

Since Theodore Roosevelt established the first national wildlife refuge in 1903, the National Wildlife Refuge System has become the world’s premier habitat conservation system, encompassing 150 million acres in 553 refuges and 38 wetland management districts. Every state has at least one national wildlife refuge, and there’s a national wildlife refuge within an hour’s drive of most major cities.

National wildlife refuges also offer many forms of recreation, from fishing, hunting and wildlife observation to photography, interpretation and environmental education.

National Wildlife Refuge Week Highlights

Scores of refuges will once again host The Big Sit!, an annual event in which teams count and report bird species seen or heard from a 17-foot-diameter circle. The event will take place October 9. Participating refuges include:

  1. Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, TX
  2. 7 a.m. until dark at Champion Lake pier
  3. Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, IN
  4. Sunup until sunset behind the visitor center


Find Refuge Week events by checking event calendar listings. Among events planned:

Saturday, October 8:

  1. Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, TX. 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  2. Live animals, nature walks, butterfly tent at Doeskin Ranch on RR 1174.
  3. Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, GA. 11:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  4. Okefenokee Festival and historic Chesser Island Homestead Open House.
  5. Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge, WA. 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
  6. Explore bird walks and refuge tours at the base of Mt. Adams.
  7. Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, IA. 9:00 a.m. to noon
  8. Join in a day of volunteer work on the tallgrass prairie.
  9. Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, WI. 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  10. Join a morning 5K Run/Walk. Then enjoy activities, nature crafts and more.

Saturday, October 15:

  1. Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge, IL. 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
  2. Canoe tours in Old Cache Channel. Reserve after September 15: (618) 634-2231.
  3. Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge, MS. 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
  4. Join a day and night of bug collecting and identification.
  5. Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, IN. 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
  6. Log Cabin Day, with crafts, music, wildlife displays and children's activities.

Sunday, October 16:

  1. Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, OH. 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  2. Drive auto tour route through seven miles normally closed to the public.
Last updated: September 26, 2011