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The birthplace of the National Wildlife Refuge System with the creation of Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903, Florida has one of the highest concentration of refuges in the country.
It helps that our state is along some of the major flyover routes for migratory birds, and is the winter home for certain species. Birders find our refuges fabulous spots – especially in winter – to fill out their life lists.
Some of our refuges are species-specific, such as Crocodile Lakes, Florida Panther, and National Key Deer.
Lake Wales Ridge exists to protect endangered plants and reptiles found only along that ridge. While access to Okefenokee Swamp is in Georgia, the vast refuge slips over the state line.
Some of our refuges have limited or no public access. But more than half have hiking, biking, or paddling trails. St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge contains almost fifty linear miles of the Florida National Scenic Trail.
Additional National Wildlife Refuges in Florida include:
- Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge
- Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge
- Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge Complex
- Lake Wales Ridge National Wildlife Refuge
- St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge
- Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge
National Wildlife Refuge Fees
Fees apply at some National Wildlife Refuges, particularly those with heavy visitation or beach access. Sometimes a fee is only charged for access to a particular unit, scenic drive, or trailhead.
Your Golden Eagle / National Parks pass is good at all locations, as are Federal duck stamps, which can be purchased at National Wildlife Refuge visitor centers.
Fourth grade students (and their families) as well as active military are eligible for free passes.
Seniors may purchase discount passes good for their lifetimes. Passes are a great bargain if you plan to visit more a few parks in a year. They are honored at National Wildlife Refuges and National Forest Fee Areas as well.
Florida’s Best National Wildlife Refuge Trails
These are our picks for trails you shouldn’t miss at our National Wildlife Refuges in Florida.