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What is Your Favorite Wildlife Refuge to Visit?

From the splashing bright blue waters on the shores of Hawaii, to the dry beautiful desert in Nevada, there is something for everyone in the Refuge System. So, in honor of National Travel and Tourism Week, we thought we’d take another look at USA Today’s list of Ten Best National Wildlife Refuges. Below are the Top 10 wildlife refuges selected by USA Today readers. What would you choose as your favorite wildlife refuge?

Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge, Oklahoma

 

A herd of bison take their calves out to graze near Elk Mountain at Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge | Justin Morris
A herd of bison take their calves out to graze near Elk Mountain at Wichita Mountains NWR | Justin Morris

Surrounded by two rugged granite rock mountain ranges, Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge is a haven for the wildlife found in the plains. More than 50 mammal, 240 bird, 64 reptile and amphibian, 36 fish, and 806 plant species call this land home. One of the more iconic species in the region is the American bison totalling about 650 individuals on the wildlife refuge. To preserve the cultural and historical legacy of the area, the refuge is also home to a herd of Texas longhorn cattle.

J.N. ‘Ding’ Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Florida

 

Yellow-crowned Night Heron with breakfast crab on J.N. 'Ding' Darling National Wildlife Refuge | Michael Dougherty
Yellow-crowned Night Heron with breakfast crab on J.N. ‘Ding’ Darling NWR | Michael Dougherty

Located on Sanibel Island in Florida, J.N. ‘Ding’ Darling National Wildlife Refuge is one of the most visited wildlife refuges in the System. Many people associate the bright roseate spoonbills with the refuge, but it also home to mangrove cuckoo, yellow-crowned night herons, manatees, sea turtles, alligators, dolphins, frogs, and many other different species. Visitors can catch a glimpse of these species on the 4-mile Wildlife Drive, trails, a new educational boardwalk, and from the visitor center. Visitors can also rent kayaks, trams, board, and paddleboards.

Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Maine

 

Atlantic puffins at Maine Coastal Islands NWR | USFWS
Atlantic puffins at Maine Coastal Islands NWR | USFWS

Main Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge contains more than 55 offshore islands and four coastal parcels, totalling more than 8,200 acres spanning more than 250 miles of the Maine coastline. The refuge is made up of unforested islands, coastal salt marshes, and upland mature forests of spruce and fir. Many different birds call this refuge home including Atlantic puffins, roseate terns, greater black-backed gulls, great cormorants, and many more.

Vieques National Wildlife Refuge, Puerto Rico

 

Vieques National Wildlife Refuge Beach | USFWS
Vieques National Wildlife Refuge Beach | USFWS

Containing beaches, coastal lagoons, mangrove wetlands, and upland forest areas, Vieques National Wildlife Refuge is a  beautiful sight to see. The wildlife refuge preserves the legacy of the native prehistoric Taino culture and of the sugarcane growing era. In the surrounding crystal blue waters, visitors can spot four species of sea turtles and the federally endangered Caribbean West Indian manatee.

Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Texas

 

Whooping Crane at Aransas NWR | Sandy Seth
Whooping Crane at Aransas NWR | Sandy Seth

Aransas National Wildlife Refuge is a standout conservation success story. Only 15 whooping cranes were in the wild in 1941. The bird became an emblem of alarm and concern for all endangered and threatened species. Aransas then became a focal point in the effort to recover these beautiful birds. Today, there are more than 300 birds in the area. In addition to the whooping cranes, Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles, reddish egrets, alligators, and coyotes also call this refuge home. Visitors can enjoy this wildlife refuge on trails, overlooks, a fishing pier, and a 40 ft observation tower.

Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont

 

Connecticut River over Cattails | Lisa Densmore
Connecticut River over Cattails | Lisa Densmore

Spanning across four states, Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge include nine divisions representing a huge variety of habitats and wildlife species for visitors to explore. The wildlife refuge is also home to nine federally listed species including the Canada lynx, dwarf wedgemussel, Puritan tiger beetle, New England cottontail, American eel, northeastern bulrush, and shortnose sturgeon. It is the only wildlife refuge of its kind to encompass an entire watershed – the Connecticut River watershed. In fact, it was recently expanded!

 

Seney National Wildlife Refuge, Michigan

 

Sunrise over ponds at Seney NWR | Kenneth Waller
Sunrise over ponds at Seney NWR | Kenneth Waller

Seney National Wildlife Refuge is a restoration success story. Once a land that was heavily logged, burned, ditched, drained, and cultivated, is now teeming with migratory birds and other wildlife. In fact, it is one of the most important stops for migratory birds including raptors, passerines, and water birds. This wildlife refuge is also known as a Globally Important Bird Area.

Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Delaware

 

Snow geese at Bombay Hook NWR | Gerry Abbott
Snow geese at Bombay Hook NWR | Gerry Abbott

One of the largest remaining expanses of tidal salt marsh in the mid-Atlantic region is protected by Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge. Established as a link in the chain of wildlife refuges extending from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, it is primarily a breeding ground for migrating birds and other wildlife. Because of this habitat and its importance, it is a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance and a Globally Important Bird Area attracting birders from all over the world.

 

Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, Hawaii

 

Kileuea Point with light house in the distance | USFWS
Kileuea Point with light house in the distance | USFWS

Affectionately known as “Kilauea Light” because of the lighthouse, Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge is nothing short of spectacular. With sheer cliffs, bright blue ocean waters, and some of the largest populations of nesting seabirds, it’s a place you don’t want to miss. It’s also home to Hawaii’s endangered state bird, the nene along with Hawaiian monk seals and spinner dolphins.

 

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Maryland

 

Bald Eagle at Blackwater NWR | Donald E Brown
Bald Eagle at Blackwater NWR | Donald E Brown

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge has an incredible amount of plant and animal diversity due to its three different habitats – marsh, shallow water, and forest. It has also been designated as an Internationally Important Birding Area and a Wetland of International Importance. Due to the diversity and importance of habitat, it has been nicknamed the “Everglades of the North”. Visitors can enjoy the diversity of flora and fauna on a paved wildlife drive, hiking trails, paddling trails, and on a bike route.

Permanent link to this article: http://refugeassociation.org/2015/05/what-is-your-favorite-wildlife-refuge-to-visit/

2 comments

  1. Ronald Fowler says:

    Wallop’s Island NWR, VA

  2. επισκευη λαπτοπ αθηνα says:

    Επισκευή καρτας γραφικων στην Βαρυμπομπη γρηγορα
    και εγγυημενα. Η EASolutions βρισκεται
    κοντα σας. Για οποιαδηποτεερωτηση μη διστασετε να καλεσετε στα τηλεφωνα μας.

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