J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge
What Can be Seen in the Wildlife Refuge?
Over 50 species of birds, several alligators, perhaps a crocodile, and raccoons. In total over 200 species that have been seen in the refuge, ranging from the reclusive mangrove cuckoo to the ubiquitous white ibis. Two favorite species of all visitors are the roseate spoonbills, year-round residents, and the large flock of white pelicans which regularly winter on the large ponds of the refuge.
Where is the J.N. Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge?
Sanibel Island is a sub-tropical barrier island located in the Gulf of Mexico, just off Ft. Myers, Florida. It can be reached by driving over a 3-mile causeway from the mainland to the island. Over half of the island (including the refuge) is set aside as natural habitat for the sub-tropical flora and fauna. The J.N. Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge is located on Sanibel-Captive Road 3 miles from the terminus of Periwinkle Way, Sanibel's main road.
What is there to do at the Refuge?
A first time visitor to the refuge should initially stop at the Ding Darling Center of Education. There, volunteers operate a video tape that explains the background of the refuge and what can be expected to be seen there. Displays of various birds, fish and mammals also help introduce the visitor to the inhabitants of the refuge, and the Society operates a shop where the interested visitor can purchase a bird field guide or one of the many publications on the wildlife of the region. The refuge itself consists of a 5 mile road, easily traveled by car, bicycle or foot, that wends through the mangrove forest while passing large open water areas. The estuarine environment of Pine Island Sound provides the ideal habitat for mangrove growth and water bird nesting and feeding.
Fondest memory: Facilities
Center of Education - exhibits, orientation video, book sales, information desk. Open 9 am to 5 pm daily from November through April; May through October hours are from 9 am to 4 pm every day.
- five miles; one-way drive with interpretive signs. observation tower and pavilion. Open to pedestrians and bicyclists sunrise to sunset every day except Friday. The front gate opens to vehicles 1 hour after sunrise and closes 1/2 hour before sunset. $5.00 entrance fee, closed Fridays .
* Indigo Trail - 2 miles each way
* Cross Dike - .25 mile
* Red Mangrove Overlook - .1 mile
* Shell Mound Trail - .3 mile
* Bailey Tract trails - 1.75 miles
* Commodore Creek - 2 miles
* Buck Key - 4 miles
The Sanibel welcome sign greets everyone coming across the causeway to this beautiful barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico off the southwest Florida coast.
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