Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge

Quick Facts

Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge

Alabama

(256) 353-7243

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, located along the Tennessee River between Huntsville and Decatur, was established in 1938 to provide habitat for wintering and migrating birds. Considered the easternmost Refuge in the Mississippi flyway, this 34,500-acre refuge attracts thousands of wintering waterfowl each year and supports the southernmost, and Alabama's only, significant concentration of wintering Southern James Bay Canada geese. It also serves as winter habitat for the state's largest duck population. In addition to migratory birds, the refuge hosts 115 species of fish, 74 species of reptiles and amphibians, 47 species of mammals, and 285 different species of songbirds. The refuge is also home to 10 federally listed endangered or threatened species.

Wheeler NWR is comprised of a great diversity of habitat types such as bottomland hardwoods, wetlands, pine uplands, agricultural fields, and backwater embayments. These habitats provide excellent feeding, loafing, and roosting sites for waterfowl, as well as nesting sites for migrating songbirds. The Refuge provides a much needed oasis in one of the fastest growing regions in the state, with Madison being ranked as one of the top ten fasting growing cities in the nation in 2002.

Map of Wheeler NWR

Latitude, Longitude: 34.547805, -86.950492

READ MORE

Activities

  • Boating

    Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge is on the second largest lake in Alabama, so boating opportunities are vast. There are six paved boat ramps on the refuge, and several more unpaved ramps.

  • Bird Watching

    Considered the easternmost Refuge in the Mississippi flyway, this 34,500-acre refuge attracts thousands of wintering waterfowl each year and supports the southernmost, and Alabama's only, significant concentration of wintering Southern James Bay Canada geese. It also serves as winter habitat for the state's largest duck population and is home to 285 different species of songbirds.

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    Auto/Motorcycle touring permitted, though terrain may prove

  • Fishing

    Fishing is very popular at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. An estimated 200,000 anglers try their luck in Refuge waters annually. Boat ramps are located throughout the area, and an accessible pier is located near the refuge headquarters.

  • Hiking

    There are many opportunities to enjoy wildlife observation and photography opportunties on Wheeler NWR. One of the best ways to view wildlife is to take a short walk on one of the five designated nature trails (Atkeson Trail, Beaverdam Swamp Boardwalk Trail, Dancy Bottom Trail, Flint Creek or the Wildlife Observation Trail).

  • Historic Sites

    The Givens Interpretative Center, a 10,000-square foot visitor center, offers education programs, displays, and excellent wildlife viewing areas.

  • Hunting

    Hunting is allowed on approximately 18,000 acres of the refuge. Game includes deer, quail, rabbit, squirrel, raccoon, and even feral hogs. Be sure to check with the refuge for regulations.

  • Wildlife Watching

    Wheeler NWR is comprised of a great diversity of habitat types such as bottomland hardwoods, wetlands, pine uplands, agricultural fields, and backwater embayments. These habitats provide excellent feeding, loafing, and roosting sites for waterfowl, as well as nesting sites for migrating songbirds. In addition to migratory birds, the refuge hosts 115 species of fish, 74 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 47 species of mammals.

Directions

Driving

Wheeler NWR is located in Decatur, Alabama, about 80 miles north of Birmingham and 30 miles west of Huntsville. From Interstate 65, take exit 334 and travel west on highway 67. The Refuge visitor center is 2 miles on the left and the Refuge headquarters is 2.5 miles on the right.

Flying

The closest major airport is in Huntsville. A variety of car rental agencies are available.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(256) 353-7243

Links