Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge

Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge
Sanibel Island, Florida, USA

Initiated in 1945 by President Truman, the J.N. Darling National Wildlife Refuge has protected over 6,400 acres of mangroves, marshes, hammocks, and more for the past 74 years.

I went and checked it out on a Saturday in December and the experience couldn’t be more lovely.

The portion of the preserve where visitors can visit is a 4-mile loop, accessible by either motor vehicle or biking/hiking. The entrance fees are so cheap, just $1.00 for hiker & bikers and $5.00 for motor vehicles! Note that since the drive is forward-only, so you aren’t able to turn around at any point, but you can pull off to the side to get a closer look.

The preserve is open every day, but Friday from 9:00AM-4:00PM, including Holidays.

The best time to visit the preserve is during low tide. To check the tide levels visit here.

Parking is free throughout the preserve, so make sure to check out the views from the look-out point.

There are over 245 species of birds throughout the refuge. As the majority of species are seasonal, the best chances for good bird watching is from January to early April.

Top 5 Bird Species to See:

  • American White Pelican
  • Reddish Egret
  • Mangrove Cuckoo
  • Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron
  • Roseate Spoonbill

Whether you’re a bird watcher, trail rider or just love nature walks, plan to visit this wildlife refuge the next time you visit Sanibel Island!

For more information check out their site here.


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