J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge

#6 in Best Things To Do in Sanibel Island
J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge
cletch/Flickr

Key Info

1 Wildlife Dr, Sanibel, FL

Price & Hours

$1 per pedestrian; $5 per vehicle
Hours vary seasonally

Details

Hiking, Parks and Gardens, Zoos and Aquariums Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
3.9scorecard
  • 4.0Value
  • 3.0Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

Named after a political cartoonist and conservationist, the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge was originally meant to conserve the Sanibel Island mangrove forest. Now, the refuge (which occupies 6,300 acres of land or half the entire island) shelters those same mangroves, as well as animals like crocodiles, alligators and a countless number of birds. In fact, for herons, cuckoos and ospreys, this refuge is an important stop along their southern migratory path.

You can hike or bike through one of the many refuge trails or along the 4.5-mile Wildlife Drive, which is also open for vehicles and an open-air tram. Recent visitors recommend stopping by a restroom before stepping foot on the beautiful path because there are none along the way. You can also view the refuge from the water, which some preferred over Wildlife Drive.

The refuge's hours vary by month, but you will see the most wildlife if you visit between the months of November and April. It costs approximately $1 (per person) to enter on foot and $5 per car. The guided tram tour costs approximately $13 per person. Visit the official website for more information on pricing and hours.

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