Visiting a national wildlife refuge is easier than you might think. The hardest part is choosing between all of the refuges based on your location and interests. There are more than 500 national wildlife refuges to choose from, so if you need a little help picking one, you're at the right place.
Tips to Get You Started
- Find a Wildlife Refuge Search by Zip Code, by State or Alphabetically. Once you've decided where you're headed, check out the refuges' helpful Plan Your Visit pages.
- Most national wildlife refuges don't charge an entrance fee. Admission for those sites that do charge a fee generally ranges from $3 to $5, good for an entire carload. And some days are fee free! An annual pass, permitting entrance to all sites, is also an option.
- If you're traveling with children, learn more about the Junior Ranger Program. It's sure to be a hit with the kids.
- If you're traveling with pets, be sure to check with the local refuge. Some allow pets on leashes.
- Check out www.recreation.gov. You can make online reservations here for some of our public cabins and campgrounds. You can also learn about activities at other recreation sites.
America the Beautiful - Federal Recreational Lands Passes
A pass is your ticket to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites.
Know Before You GoRegulations, wildlife viewing opportunities, and recreation activities vary greatly from season to season and refuge to refuge. For example, some areas like beaches may be closed during shorebird nesting season. Visit an individual refuge website for more details and local contact information.This planning will help you have an enjoyable and safe visit.
- Most refuges are open during daylight hours. Some may open or close specific areas seasonally.
- Stop by the welcome kiosk or visitor center to pick up maps, guides and up-to-the-minute information on everything from road conditions to hiking trails.
- Learn about special programs offered at the refuge. Enjoy a ranger-led program or two. These offer something special for all ages and interests.
- Ask a refuge ranger. These people are some of the most knowledgeable you will encounter on your travels … not to mention the friendliest!
- Be respectful of wild animals and keep your distance. Animals encountered at wildlife refuges are not captive in a zoo; these animals are in their natural habitat and behave accordingly.
- Remember: Take only pictures, and leave only footprints. Please help us care for these special places.
Be PreparedSome sites have gas stations, convenience stores, and other amenities nearby. At others, you have to travel miles for basic services. In rural areas, hours of operation may be more limited (for example, restaurants may be closed on Sunday or stores close earlier). Some refuges have staff or volunteers on site daily; others are not staffed at all.
Be sure to have some of the basics with you before your trip:
- Plenty of gas
- Drinking water (you're more vulnerable in both hot and cold weather if you're dehydrated; bring more than you think you'll need.)
- Insect repellent
- Dress for the weather and know the forecast. Always have rain gear, an extra jacket or layer, and a hat regardless of the season.
- Snacks, especially if traveling with children
- Maps of the area and the refuge
- First aid kit