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 August
Daily through 8/31, 10-11am
Stop by to observe our South Marsh osprey pair as they prepare to raise a family. Hear the remarkable stories of their annual long-distance migrations and their recovery in the U.S. Spotting scope provided for up-close views of these majestic birds of prey.
Bayswater Park Kayaking Walk Up and Seining with Urban Park Rangers
Kayak tryouts for those who have never done it before and a net fishing adventure to discover what life thrives in the bay. Ages 6 and up with an adult.
JoCo Marsh Excursion
8/13, 9:30am-12:30pm, Bayswater Park
Enjoy an energetic four-plus-mile excursion from Bayswater Park through JoCo Creek. Immerse yourself fin the estuary and visit this lovely salt marsh. Call 718-338-3799 to make a reservation.
Idlewild Park Paddle
Explore this salt marsh near the head of Jamaica Bay on this idyllic two-mile beginner paddle. Birding activity will also be provided with rangers onshore. Ages 6 and up with an adult. Call 718-388-3799 to make a reservation.
9th Annual Shorebird Festival
Join the American Littoral Society, NYC Audubon, Gateway NRA, and fellow birders for this annual festival at the peak of shorebird migration. Enjoy a full day of hikes and birding activities. Visit littoralsociety.org for details.
Spring Creek Excursion
8/28, 9am-12:30pm, North Channel Bridge
Cross the open bay to explore this wild creek and salt marsh on an energetic six-mile paddle. Call 718-338-3799 to make a reservation.
Birding, nature walks, exhibits, talks and cruises.