Visitor Activities

  • Hunting

    Bow hunter - USFWS.

    A wide range of hunting opportunities await the outdoor sports-person who ventures into the woods and fields of Patuxent Research Refuge. Opportunities include hunting for upland game, migratory game birds, white-tailed deer (bow, muzzleloader and shotgun).

    Hunting for upland game, migratory game birds, and white-tailed deer (bow, muzzleloader and shotgun) is managed by refuge officials and the Meade Natural Heritage Association (MNHA) through a permit system. MNHA is a cooperating association with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

    Hunting is permitted from September through January and on selective days in April and May during the Spring Wild Turkey Hunt. Hunters are required to follow the Patuxent Research Refuge Hunting Regulations which are based on Maryland state hunting.

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  • Fishing

    Fishing on the refuge - USFWS.

    Common species include bluegill, largemouth bass, catfish, black crappie, pickerel, eel, suckers, warmouth and pumpkinseed. Anglers may fish seasonally, mid-June to mid-October at Cash Lake, on the south tract of the refuge. Anglers may fish year-around (with some exceptions) in several locations at the North tract of the refuge. Hours vary by season and location.

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  • Wildlife Viewing

    Raccoon - USFWS.

    Hiking trails through woods and near lake shores provide year-round opportunities for viewing wildlife.

    Many Patuxent visitors take the Wildlife Conservation Tram Tour offered spring through fall. This half-hour guided tour travels through forest, meadows, and wetlands near the National Wildlife Visitor Center. Wildlife species that may be seen include deer, beaver, great blue heron, and many more.

    Refuge Trails

  • Interpretation

    Refuge tram tour - USFWS.

    Patuxent has many interpretative programs.

    Specal events held once a year include Kids Fishing Day, Wildlife and Conservation Day, and the Patuxent Wildlife Festival. See our Events Calendar for the dates schedule for this year.

    Various interpretative programs are held year round – including public programs, tram tours, and summer minicamps.


  • Environmental Education

    Girl scouts on the refuge - USFWS.

    Patuxent Research Refuge offers hands on nature studies allowing school students and other organized groups  to experience several habitats on the refuge. The hands on activities provide a way for students to connect with the natural environment, develop skills to understand complex environmental issues, and foster attitudes that help them appreciate the connection between, people, wildlife, and habitat.

    For description of current programs and information on registration, visit our education page.

    In addition to registering for an education program, scout groups may also sign up to use our two scout campsites.

    Our online resources provide an index to scout rank and badge requirements and suggested approaches for meeting the requirements.


  • Photography

    Gray tree frog - USFWS.

    Hiking trails through woods and near lakeshores provide rich opportunities for wildlife photography. Forest plant life ranges from the smallest to huge - ranging from tiny wildflowers to majestic oaks.

    Lake shores provided opportunities to view and photograph. Examples include beavers and many varieties of waterfowl from mallard ducks to Canada geese.

  • National Wildlife Visitor Center


     The National Wildlife Visitor Center is the largest science and environmental education center in the Department of the Interior. This unique facility seeks to impart to young and old alike an increased knowledge of and appreciation for the earth's vital resources. It highlights the work of professional scientists who strive to improve the condition of wildlife and their habitats. Visitor Center attractions include interactive exhibits, a gift shop, Hollingsworth Gallery, and much more.

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  • Agents of Discovery

    Agents of Discovery at work

    Agents of Discovery is an app for your smart phone that you play outdoors while learning about nature. As one of our special agents, your mission is to find the challenges and answer questions to help us improve our knowledge of the Refuge’s natural environment.

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