Watercress Darter National Wildlife Refuge

Quick Facts

Watercress Darter National Wildlife Refuge


(256) 848-6833

Map Directions

Things To Do



Watercress Darter NWR, near Bessemer, Jefferson County, Alabama, was established by the Fish and Wildlife Service in 1980 to provide protection for the endangered watercress darter. Although the Refuge is only about 23 acres of ponds, mixed pine-hardwood forest, and a residence, it contains Thomas Spring, the original quarter acre pond where the species was described. A second pond was constructed on the refuge in 1983 to provide additional darter habitat. The refuge is unstaffed and administered by Wheeler NWR. Outdoor facilities are open daily, dawn to dusk (year-round).

The watercress darter is a small, very colorful fish measuring up to 2.5 inches in length. The fish is currently found in only four sites in the upper Black Warrior River drainage near Birmingham, Alabama. They are found only at mid-depths in dense accumulations of aquatic vegetation including watercress, in springs and spring runs. Green sunfish, bluegills, and sculpins are known to prey on watercress darters. The darters feed on snails, crustaceans, and insect larvae that inhabit springs and spring runs.

Map of Watercress Darter NWR

Latitude, Longitude: 33.375696, -86.962967



  • Wildlife Watching

    Public use opportunities are limited due to the small size of the refuge and the presence of the federally endangered watercress darter. Limited hiking, wildlife observation, and wildlife photography opportunities are available. Fishing and hunting are not permitted on the Refuge.



Watercress Darter NWR is located in Bessemer, Alabama. From Interstate 459 take the Eastern Valley Road Exit (Exit 1). Take Eastern Valley Road north for approximately 6 miles. Parking is available on the left (west) side of the road immediately after the West Jefferson County Historical Society's MacAdory House and before the stop light.

Phone Numbers


(256) 848-6833