Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge

Quick Facts

Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge


(207) 646-9226

Map Directions

Things To Do


Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1966 in cooperation with the State of Maine to protect valuable salt marshes and estuaries for migratory birds. Scattered along 50 miles of coastline in York and Cumberland counties, the refuge consists of ten divisions between Kittery and Cape Elizabeth. It will contain approximately 7,600 acres when land acquisition is complete. The refuge's namesake, Rachel Carson, was a world-renowned marine biologist, author and environmentalist. She served as an aquatic biologist and Editor-in-Chief for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. During her tenure, she composed a series of articles on Atlantic Coast wildlife refuges. The refuge headquarters is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except Federal Holidays. During the summer, refuge headquarters is also open Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Map of Rachel Carson NWR

Latitude, Longitude: 43.345530, -70.547676



  • Bird Watching

    A plethora of birds vacate Rachel Carson. The refuge has recorded 26 species of waterfowl and over 120 species of landbirds. It's a major destination for thousands of shorebirds, particularly common in Biddeford Pool.

  • Fishing

    Many sites at the refuge may be used by anglers. All Maine fishing regulations apply. Use of all areas is contingent upon user cooperation. Refuge regulations require the use of non-lead jigs and sinkers to prevent waterbird poisoning. Areas are open dawn until dusk only. Carry out all litter, including monofilament, which can be dangerous to birds and other wildlife. Obey refuge signs and private property.

  • Hiking

    The two main trails at the refuge are the one mile Carson Trail and the 1.8 mile Cutts Island Trail. The trails are open during daylight hours. Leashed pets are allowed on the Carson Trail.

  • Hunting

    Hunting is available on certain refuge divisions. Permits are required. Contact refuge staff for annually updated regulations and maps. Trapping is prohibited. Current seasons open to hunters are deer fox, coyote, migratory bird and upland game. Falcons can also be taken with a special permit.

  • Wildlife Watching

    A wide variety of threatened and endangered wildlife find haven on the refuge, such as the piping plover and the New England cottontail. Other wildlife you may spot on your trip includes mink, moose, white-tailed deer and raccoon.

  • Winter Sports

    5 miles of ungroomed trails cross-country ski trails follow the upland edge of salt marsh, where vistas bring you close views of the priceless ecosystem. One trail is flat and easy. Two other trails have rolling hills. A trail map is available on the refuge website. There is no fee for trail use.



FROM MAINE TURNPIKE EXIT #2 (WELLS EXIT): At Exit #2, travel east on Route #109/#9 to Wells. Turn left (north) onto Route #1. Proceed approximately 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) and turn right (east) onto Route #9. Travel 0.7 miles (1.1 km); the Refuge will be on your right. Look for the large wooden sign at the entrance. FROM ROUTE #1 NORTH: From points north of Wells on Route #1: Proceed south on Route #1 through Kennebunk. Approximately three miles (4.8 km) south of Kennebunk, turn left (east) onto Route #9. Proceed as above.

FROM ROUTE #1 SOUTH: From points south of Wells on Route #1: Proceed north on Route #1 through Wells. Turn right (east) onto Route #9 (approximately 1.5 miles (2.4 km) north of Wells Center). Proceed as above. FROM KENNEBUNKPORT: Travel west on Route #9. Approximately five miles (8.1 km) from Kennebunkport Center, look for the large wooden sign at the entrance on the left.

Phone Numbers


(207) 646-9226