Thacher Island National Wildlife Refuge

Quick Facts

Thacher Island National Wildlife Refuge


(978) 465-5753

Map Directions

Things To Do



Thacher Island National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1972 primarily to provide feeding, resting and nesting habitat for migratory birds. It occupies the northern 22 acres of 52-acre Thacher Island located approximately one mile off the coast of Rockport, Massachusetts. The refuge and adjacent Town of Rockport property consists of cobble beach, rocky outcrop, grass, and shrub/thicket habitats. It currently supports both herring and great black-backed gulls as nesting species and serves as a resting and refueling stopover site for songbirds and other migrants. Among other wildlife, off-shore use occurs by seals, waterfowl, loons, grebes, cormorants and alcids.

Thacher Island also has a rich cultural history, perhaps best symbolized by the twin lighthouses that continue to grace its rocky landscape.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service currently does not offer any interpretive facilities or programs at Thacher Island Refuge. However, in cooperation with the Thacher Island Association, the North Tower, one of two 123-foot granite lighthouses on the island, has been restored and is periodically open to the public. This non-profit association also offers limited on-site, off-refuge overnight accommodations.

Map of Thacher Island NWR

Latitude, Longitude: 42.637493, -70.576320



  • Bird Watching

    Bird Watching enthusiasts can look forward to spotting ducks, geese, gulls and shorebirds at Thatcher Island National Wildlife Refuge. You can also see many nesting areas scattered along Ames Way Path.

  • Historic Sites

    The Thacher Island self-guided interpretive trail brochure highlights both the biological and cultural resources of the island.

Park Partners

Friends of Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Friends of Parker River National Wildlife Refuge is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the conservation of the natural resources of the refuge, fostering public understanding and appreciation of the refuge, and engaging in activities that will assist and challenge the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to meet its mandates.



The refuge is located approximately 30 miles north of Boston. Access to the refuge is by boat only. A boat ramp is available on the west side of the island on Town of Rockport property.

Public Transportation

During the summer months the Thacher Island Association operates a boat to the island out of Rockport. Contact the Association at Box 73, Rockport, MA 01966.

Phone Numbers


(978) 465-5753