Special Use Permits for our Night Surf Fishing program go on sale on September 16! Please visit the fee booth or the visitor center Thurs-Sun from 10am-3pm to purchase your permit. Permits grant access to surf fish on the refuge from sunset to midnight during the month of October. Please bring your fishing license or FIP number, a valid photo ID, and $35 cash or check at the time of your purchase.
The East Dike Trail is currently open for hiking and bicycling!
There are many opportunities for outdoor recreation at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge! Visitors enjoy hiking, biking, wildlife observation and photography, kayaking and both freshwater and surf fishing. Refuge grounds are open sunrise to sunset, daily.
Location and Contact Information
The refuge works with neighboring False Cape State Park to provide tram tours throughout the year. Tram tours begin at the wildlife refuge parking lot and start with a ride through the wildlife refuge to reach the state park. After a brief visit at the park's Visitor Center the tram continues deep into the state park, all the way to the site of the historic Wash Woods community. A one-mile, round-trip (optional) hike brings participants to the cemetery and church steeple, all that is left of this community. After returning to the tram, passengers are transported back through the park and wildlife refuge to the starting point. Throughout the trip the tram driver provides information about the history, wildlife and management of both natural areas. Please contact False Cape State Park at (757)426-7128 for the current tram tour schedule and to make a reservation.
Over 300 species of birds and dozens of reptiles, amphibians, mammals, insects and fish have been documented at the wildlife refuge. Check out the species page for a few of the wildlife that call Back Bay NWR home.
Volunteers are an integral part of many aspects of the operations at Back Bay NWR. Unfortunately, due to constraints in place due to COVID-19 many volunteer activities have been reduced or postponed at this time. Please see the "Get Involved" page for more information on the types of volunteer projects typically in place at the wildlife refuge.
Projects and Research
Established for migrating and wintering waterfowl, Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge focuses on providing optimal feeding and resting habitats for birds. A freshwater impoundment complex is managed to provide waterfowl feeding and resting areas during the winter months. Outside of the winter season these wetland pools provide habitat for shorebirds, wading birds and a variety of reptiles, amphibians and mammals. Regular surveys of birds and vegetation provide information which assists in determining if current management objectives are being met to benefit our trust species.
Connecting with the community is also an important part of Back Bay NWR's operations. Refuge staff work with local schools and community organizations to provide environmental education activities that connect children with nature and foster a love of the outdoors. Interpretive programs are also conducted throughout the year for the local and visiting public.