Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge
Southeast Region
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is there to see and do at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge?

  • Wheeler NWR offers a variety of recreational opportunities including a Visitor Center, wildlife observation, wildlife photography, fishing, hunting, hiking, boating, and educational interpretive programs. A wildlife observation building provides visitors an opportunity to view various types of wildlife. From November through February, thousands of ducks and geese use the display pool adjacent to the building. Hummingbirds and butterflies are attracted to the blooming flowers in the backyard wildlife area during spring, summer, and fall months. The Refuge offers five hiking trails ranging in length from 200 yards to four miles. Six improved boat launch areas provide access to the Tennessee River (Wheeler Reservoir) and several of its tributaries. Bank fishing opportunities also exist.

When is the best time to visit the refuge?

  • Fall, winter, and spring are typically the best times to visit the Refuge in terms of weather and wildlife sightings. Fall brings migrating flocks of ducks and geese along with the peak of the warbler migration during early October. Winter months are the best time to see the largest concentrations of ducks and geese. During spring, wildflowers and migrating songbirds are commonly seen. Summer months are typically more hot and humid with less wildlife visible during the day. Fishing for bass, bluegill, and catfish is fairly good during the summer.

Where is the best place to go to see wildlife?

  • The wildlife observation building, located near the Visitor Center, is one of the best places to view large concentrations of ducks and geese during winter months, hummingbirds and butterflies in spring, summer and fall. Bird feeders placed in the backyard wildlife area attract birds year round. Various songbirds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles may be seen along any of the five hiking trails.

Are there alligators at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge?

  • Although seldom seen, American alligators do inhabit the Refuge. In the 1970’s, the alligator population had been reduced drastically, so 50 alligators were released here in an effort to help restore the species which at that time was federally listed as threatened. An estimated 40-50 alligators currently inhabit Wheeler NWR and at least one active nest was located during the summer of 2001.


Last updated: June 9, 2009