Broad Channel, Queens.
Trails open daily, dawn to dusk.
The Visitor Contact Station is wheelchair accessible and handicapped parking is available.
Gateway NRA (NPS), 718-318-4340.
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
A sanctuary for wild birds and other native species
The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge—part of Gateway National Recreation Area—is one of the most significant bird sanctuaries in the Northeastern United States and one of the best places in New York City to observe migrating species. With more than 330 bird species—nearly half the species in the Northeast—sighted at the refuge over the last 25 years, it is a must-see for avian enthusiasts.
Watch this video for a short introduction to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge by a national park ranger. Enjoy a ranger-guided walk in quest of birds and other wildlife on your visit.
The park's unique landscape contains a variety of rare native habitats including a salt marsh, upland field and woods, several fresh and brackish water ponds, and an open expanse of bay. There is a wide variety of ranger and partner-led programs offered year-round at the site, including presentations on seasonal wildlife, sunset tours, hikes, boat trips, family programs and an annual lecture series. Check out what's happening at Jamaica Bay.
The Visitor Contact Station, a Gold LEED certified building, welcomes visitors and is the starting point for many guided programs. Free walking permits, necessary to hike the trails, are obtainable here as well. The Visitor Contact Station is also home to exhibits that highlight Jamaica Bay's remarkable plant and animal life, history, and the continuing human impact on the nature of the bay.
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, the only wildlife refuge in the National Park System, is also home to an impressive array of native reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, over 60 species of butterflies and one of the largest populations of horseshoe crabs in the Northeast. Numerous ranger-led nature hikes, bird watching sessions, and seining activities give visitors the chance to get up close to these incredible animals and learn about protecting them.
Originally managed by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, the landscape of the Wildlife Refuge underwent a major change when then Park Commissioner Robert Moses ordered the creation of two large fresh water ponds, East Pond and West Pond, which are still major features of the park today. In 1972, the city transferred ownership of the Wildlife Refuge to the National Park Service, and the site became part of Gateway National Recreation Area.
Things to Do
Special Events in March
See the amazing flying tricks that make up the mating ritual of the American Woodcock, following a brief indoor presentation. Bring a flashlight.
Celebrate the first day of spring with a two-mile, ranger-led walk to hear the tree frog chorus at Big John's Pond. Wear sturdy shoes, bring a flashlight and dress for the weather.
Early Spring Bird Walk
Visit the East and West ponds to look for early spring birds. This free tour is led by American Littoral Society naturalist Don Riepe and is in partnership with NYC Audubon and Gateway National Recreation Area. RSVP to NEChapter@littoralsociety.org or call 718-474-0896.
Birding, nature walks, exhibits, talks and cruises.