J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge

J.N. Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, Florida

The J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island was founded as a National Wildlife Refuge in 1945. In 1967, it was renamed in honor of Jay Norwood "Ding" Darling, who became president of the U.S. Biological Survey (the predecessor of today's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) in the 1930s and who had considerable influence on nature preservation on Sanibel Island. For conservation purposes, some parts of the 9.6 square mile nature preserve are not accessible to the general public.

The Wildlife Refuge was created to offer protection to endangered animal species. Throughout the year, more than 170 different species of birds pass through the refuge, many of them are migratory birds that fly to the warmer southern regions of Florida during the winter months.

If you also would like to experience Florida bird life at its most magnificent and observe roseate spoonbills and pelicans, you should plan to visit the park between November and April. The chances of observing a wide variety of species are particularly great during the early morning hours and at sundown.

The Wildlife Refuge can be explored by boat and on foot. Canoes and kayaks can be rented at the Tarpon Bay Recreation Center. From here, you can explore the refuge's coves and mangrove forests via a sign-posted paddling trail. The Recreation Center also offers guided canoe and kayak tours with interesting information on Florida's flora and fauna. 

J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel Island - Impressions

J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island
J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island
J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island
J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island
J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island
J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island
J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island
J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island
J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island
J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island
J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island
J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island
J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island
J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island
J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island
J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island
J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island
J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island

Those who prefer to embark on an extended biking tour can rent a bicycle after crossing the bridge to Sanibel Island (at the tourist information center behind the bridge on the right).

The J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center houses an interesting exhibition about the Wildlife Refuge and its origins. The Visitor Center is also the start of a 4.9-mile (8 km)-long "Wildlife Drive" that can be explored by tram, car or bicycle. Visitors can park alongside the Wildlife Drive to explore smaller trails or coves on foot. A certain part of the Wildlife Drive is designed only as a foot and bike path.

Whatever you choose—the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge is certainly worth a visit.

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