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 June
Summer Blooms, Bugs and Birds
Walk a mile around the refuge and tune in to the sights and sounds of summer including butterflies, wildflowers, and birds. Bring water, sunscreen, and insect repellent.
Kids Take the Lead: Migration and Climate Change
Rangers help you spot and identify all the different birds that stop by along the ponds of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. If you're lucky you may even see Coley, Gateway's globe-trekking osprey.
Terrapins and Horseshoe Crabs
Join NYC Audubon for a 2-mile hike through the Refuge to look at nesting diamondback terrapins and mating horseshoe crabs. Led by Don Riepe, call 718-318-4340 for reservations.
Jamaica Bay Sunset Ecology Cruise
6/23, 5-8pm, Departs from Sheepshead Bay, Pier 4 (Emmons Ave. & Bedford Aves.)
All aboard the 100-foot "Golden Sunshine" for a 3-hour narrated cruise along the backwater marshes near JFK airport. Learn about the 13,000-acre Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge on this tour presented by NYC Audubon and Gateway National Recreation Area. Wine, cheese, fruit, and snacks provided. Cruise limited to 140 people, $55 per person. Contact Don Riepe at 917-371-8577 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
Full Strawberry Moon
Walk 1.5 miles along the West Pond Trail with a ranger as your guide on a full moon night. Bring a flashlight, wear sturdy shoes and dress for the weather.
See special programs page for kayaking and sailing programs.
Birding, nature walks, exhibits, talks and cruises.