Image of piping plover chick on beach

The expansive beach at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge provides an excellent opportunity to view shorebirds and sea ducks, explore tide pools, swim, and simply take in the beauty of the Atlantic Ocean. All organic material, including shells, stones, bones, and driftwood, must be left in place. From April 1 to early August, most of the refuge beach is closed to protect nesting piping plovers, terns, and other shorebirds. Volunteer plover wardens help protect nesting plovers by monitoring closed areas and providing public outreach. If you are interested in being a plover warden, please e-mail us at

You may notice many 'area closed' signs while enjoying the beach. These signs indicate that an area is closed for all public use - not just vehicle access. Closed areas are established to protect fragile habitats, like the dunes, that are easily eroded and disturbed. Dunes provide critical habitat for nesting shorebirds and plant species, and shelter the interior of the island from harsh wind and wave action. To preserve the dunes, beach access is only allowed via marked boardwalks and lots. During the summer months, you can join one of our drop in beach outreach programs to learn more about sharing the shore with the special species who call the refuge beach home.

The refuge periodically closes to vehicles when refuge lots are full. Bike and pedestrian access is still permitted during vehicle closures. During the busy summer months, visiting during off-peak times increases the likelihood that the refuge will be open. This includes weekdays, and before 10am and after 3pm on weekends. A list of alternative beaches and outdoor recreation areas can be found here.