U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service logo A Unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System
Banner graphic displaying the Fish & Wildlife Service logo and National Wildlife Refuge System tagline

National Wildlife Refuge

2700 Refuge Headquarters Road
Decatur, AL   35603
E-mail: wheeler@fws.gov
Phone Number: 256-353-7243
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Recreational and educational opportunities abound at the refuge. From hunting to fishing to wildlife observation, there's an opportunity for everyone to "Go Wild" at Wheeler
Gray horizontal line
  Recreation and Education Opportunities

Environmental Education
Environmental Education - Structured educational programs are available for schools, universities, and professional groups and are offered in our 40-student classroom or can be conducted outside on the Refuge. Please call the Refuge Visitor Center at (256) 350-6639 for additional information.

Fishing - Fishing is very popular at Wheeler NWR with an estimated 200,000 anglers trying their luck in Refuge waters annually. The Refuge has five improved boat ramps and several unimproved ramps suitable for small boats and canoes. Many creeks and sloughs adjoin the main channel of the Tennessee River throughout the Refuge. This provides excellent fishing opportunities for bass, sunfish, crappie, sauger, and catfish. Special regulations apply. Please contact the Refuge headquarters for specific information.

Hunting - Public hunting on Wheeler NWR is permitted on approximately 18,000 acres. A variety of species can be taken including squirrel, raccoon, oposum, rabbit, quail, and deer. Permits and special regulations apply. Please contact the Refuge headquarters for specific information.

Interpretation - Exhibits and films are available at the Visitor Center as well as an opportunity to view a live Red-tailed Hawk up close. "Hawkeye," as we call her, is an unreleasable rehabilitated hawk who now makes her home at the Visitor Center and has dazzled thousands of schoolchildren with her splendor. A small sales area operated by the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge Association is also located in the Visitor Center and carries educational and interpretive products, clothing, and other wildlife related items.

Wildlife Observation
Wildlife Observation and Photography - Located adjacent to the Visitor Center is the Wildlife Observation Building. Built on a knoll overlooking a waterfowl impoundment, it offers visitors the opportunity to see waterfowl and other wildlife up close and personal. Spotting scope stations are provided but they are often occupied so bring your binoculars. The Wildlife Observation Tower is located on the north side of the Refuge and offers visitors an elevated view of the Beaverdam peninsula, an area of the Refuge managed primarily for Canada geese. To get there, call or write the Refuge Visitor Center for directions and a map.

Four hiking trails are present on the Refuge ranging in length from 200 yards to four miles, and most Refuge levees are open year round to foot traffic. These trails and levees present excellent opportunities to view wildlife in a wide variety of habitats.

Headquarters - Open 7:30 am to 3:30 pm, Monday - Friday Visitor Center - Open 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, seven days a week from October 1- February 28; 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, Tues. - Sat. the rest of the year. Outdoor facilities - Open daylight hours only (year-round)

Entrance Fees
All Refuge facilities are free to the public.

Use Fees
All Refuge facilities are free to the public.
- Refuge Profile Page -