Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge

Quick Facts

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge

New York

(718) 318-4340

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge -- part of Gateway National Recreation Area -- is the only wildlife refuge in the national park system.

Located in Queens, New York City, the refuge contains diverse habitats including salt marsh, upland field and woods, several fresh and brackish water ponds and an open expanse of bay available for exploration. The park offers opportunities for bird watching, strolling quiet trails or just experiencing the outdoors. At the visitor center, learn about Jamaica Bay's remarkable plant and animal life, history, and how people continue to shape the nature of the bay. Ranger and volunteer-led programs are offered year-round, and include presentations on seasonal wildlife, sunset tours, family programs and an annual lecture series.

At approximately 32 square miles and over 13,000 acres, Jamaica Bay is the largest natural open space in New York City.

Map of Jamaica Bay

Latitude, Longitude: 40.618125, -73.828673

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Activities

  • Boating

    Park programs for small boat sailing, canoeing and kayaking are offered in spring, summer and autumn. The Jamaica Bay Kayak trail offers suggested routes and launch points throughout the bay. Contact the park or visit the official website to download the kayak trail map.

    Hand-launched boating permits for privately owned small, hand-launched boats (canoes, kayaks and rowboats) are sold at the Floyd Bennett Field Ranger Station, and are valid for the calendar year in which they are purchased. For information on launch sites, call 718-338-3799.

    During summer, basic sailboat instruction is offered by the park. Call 718-338-3799.

    For larger boats Gateway Marina, located on Flatbush Avenue across from Floyd Bennett Field, offers slips and a full range of boating services. Call 718-252-8761.

    Note: In order to protect wildlife and sensitive marsh habitat, entry into salt marshes or onto any islands in Jamaica Bay is not permitted.

  • Bird Watching

    Birding is great at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, as well as the back fort area of Fort Tilden and the North Forty area of Floyd Bennett Field.

    Over 330 species of birds have been recorded at the Jamaica Bay Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area. Majestic Bald Eagles, tiny Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, and beautiful Great Blue Herons, all breed, rest, or feed in the park's extensive wetlands, woodlands, and shorelines.

    Please remember that in order to provide food for wildlife, the removal of any plant materials, including fruits, berries, nuts and seeds is prohibited from Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

  • Hiking

    Take a self guided trail at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. Try the Upland, East Pond and West Pond trails. Pets are not permitted anywhere within the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge District.

  • Historic Sites

    At the visitor center, learn about Jamaica Bay's remarkable plant and animal life, history, and how people continue to shape the nature of the bay.

  • Wildlife Watching

    Many reptiles and amphibians call the park home. In spring, tree frogs such as Spring Peepers and Gray Tree Frogs, breed in shallow pools, while snakes such as the Black Racer, Garter Snake, and Brown Snake hunt the park woodlands. Mammals also prosper here, with evenings the best time to observe raccoons, opossums, and muskrats on their nightly forays. Nearby, dragonflies, damselflies, butterflies, and crickets lead their brief lives. Striped Bass, Bluefish, and even seahorses swim the extensive marshlands and open waters of Jamaica Bay.

Seasonality/Weather

The New York metropolitan area experiences four distinct seasons. Temperatures are moderate in the spring and fall, but range into the 90s during the summer to below freezing in winter.

Directions

Driving

From North, East, and West:

* Belt Parkway to Exit 17 S, Cross Bay Boulevard. * Proceed south on Cross Bay Boulevard across the Joseph Addabbo - North Channel Bridge. * The Visitor Contact Station is approximately 1.5 miles past the bridge on the right. * Turn right at traffic light for Visitor Contact Station parking.

From the South (and alternate route from other directions):

* Beach Channel Drive to the Cross Bay - Veterans Memorial Bridge. * Cross the bridge toward Broad Channel. * Follow Cross Bay Boulevard through Broad Channel, about 1 mile. * Turn left at traffic light into the Visitor Contact Station parking lot.

Public Transportation

Subway:

* Take the Rockaway bound A to Broad Channel Station. * Walk along Noel Road to Cross Bay Boulevard. * Turn right and walk about three quarters of a mile to the Refuge Visitor Center.

Bus:

* Take the Q21 from Liberty Avenue (Queens) or 116th Street (Rockaway) to the Refuge. * Alternate: take the Q53 bus from 61st Street & Roosevelt Avenue (Queens) to the Refuge.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(718) 318-4340

Links