Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Quick Facts

Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Arkansas

(870) 564-2429

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

Birdwatchers, particularly those interested in waterfowl, would be well served to pay a visit to Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge during the winter months. Peak numbers of waterfowl in January and February can exceed 200,000. Additionally, Wood Ducks are year-round residents and annually raise approximately 2,500 young in natural cavities and nest boxes. Over 225 bird species have been observed on the refuge and recorded by visiting ornithologists. Other wildlife to look for are beavers, otters, raccoons, wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, bobcat and the occasional armadillo.

Big Lake NWR was established in 1915 to provide habitat and protection for migrating and wintering birds and is recognized as an important link in the Mississippi migration corridor. Over the years the objectives of the refuge have expanded to include protection for endangered species. Big Lake was important in the recovery of the bald eagle from its endangered status. Eagles came back to nest on the refuge in 1989 and have annually raised young since 1993. Also, since most of the bottomland hardwood forests have disappeared, it has become more important to preserve and restore this habitat for the wide variety of wildlife it supports.

Big Lake consists primarily of wooded swamps and open water. The lake is shallow, with an average depth of three feet, and is bordered by a virgin cypress-tupelo swamp with some black willow and buttonbush. Smartweed, American lotus and water lily characterize the herbaceous wetland plants. Tree species on higher ground include cottonwood, green ash, hackberry, red maple, sycamore, river birch and a variety of oaks.

Due to the fact that Big Lake NWR is an oasis of bottomland hardwood in an agriculturally developed area, 6,400 acres are designated as a National Natural Landmark and 2,100 acres of the Natural Landmark are included in the Wilderness Preservation System.

Map of Big Lake NWR

Latitude, Longitude: 35.898228, -90.120850

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Activities

  • Boating

    There are two boat ramps on the refuge, one at Timm's Point and the other off Highway 18, near the headquarters, which give boaters access to Big Lake.

  • Bird Watching

    Peak numbers of waterfowl in January and February can exceed 200,000. Additionally, Wood Ducks are year-round residents and annually raise approximately 2,500 young in natural cavities and nest boxes. Over 225 bird species have been observed on the refuge and recorded by visiting ornithologists.

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    Please contact the park for more information.

  • Fishing

    Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge provides a variety of fishing opportunities throughout the year. Two boat launch ramps are available to those with boats, and an accessible pier gives anglers easy access. Bank fishing is also allowed.

  • Hunting

    The refuge is open to small game and archery deer hunting. Check with the refuge for regulations and more information.

Seasonality/Weather

The best time to view waterfowl is during the months of January and February. However, the lake is closed to public access from November through February.

Directions

Driving

Big Lake NWR is located in northeast Arkansas adjacent to the bootheel of Missouri. From Blytheville, travel west on State Highway 18 approximately 15 miles. From Jonesboro, travel east on State Highway 18 approximately 35 miles. Headquarters is located on the north side of the highway. Various directional signs are located along the route.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(870) 564-2429

Links