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Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge



Broad Channel, Queens.


Get map & directions.


Trails open daily, dawn to dusk.
Visitor Center open daily, 8:30am-5pm.


The Visitor Contact Station is wheelchair accessible and handicapped parking is available.


Do I need a permit?


Are pets allowed?


Gateway NRA (NPS), 718-318-4340.


Breezy Point
Canarsie Pier
Floyd Bennett Field
Fort Tilden
Jacob Riis Park

National Park Service

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge

A sanctuary for wild birds and other native species

The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge—part of Gateway National Recreation Area—is one of the most significant bird sanctuaries in the Northeastern United States and one of the best places in New York City to observe migrating species. With more than 330 bird species—nearly half the species in the Northeast—sighted at the refuge over the last 25 years, it is a must-see for avian enthusiasts.

Watch this video for a short introduction to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge by a national park ranger. Enjoy a ranger-guided walk in quest of birds and other wildlife on your visit.

The park's unique landscape contains a variety of rare native habitats including a salt marsh, upland field and woods, several fresh and brackish water ponds, and an open expanse of bay. There is a wide variety of ranger and partner-led programs offered year-round at the site, including presentations on seasonal wildlife, sunset tours, hikes, boat trips, family programs and an annual lecture series. Check out what's happening at Jamaica Bay.

The Visitor Contact Station welcomes visitors and is the starting point for many guided programs. Free walking permits, necessary to hike the trails, are obtainable here as well. The Visitor Contact Station is also home to exhibits that highlight Jamaica Bay's remarkable plant and animal life, history, and the continuing human impact on the nature of the bay.

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, the only wildlife refuge in the National Park System, is also home to an impressive array of native reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, over 60 species of butterflies and one of the largest populations of horseshoe crabs in the Northeast. Numerous ranger-led nature hikes, bird watching sessions, and seining activities give visitors the chance to get up close to these incredible animals and learn about protecting them.

Originally managed by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, the landscape of the Wildlife Refuge underwent a major change when then Park Commissioner Robert Moses ordered the creation of two large fresh water ponds, East Pond and West Pond, which are still major features of the park today. In 1972, the city transferred ownership of the Wildlife Refuge to the National Park Service, and the site became part of Gateway National Recreation Area.

Things to Do

Special Events in October

Autumn Hike at Jamaica Bay

10/19, 2pm

Join a ranger for a hike to identify colors and shapes in nature. Kids can earn a Junior Ranger Badge by learning about the plants and animals we encounter. Call 718-318-4340 for more information

Herbert Johnson Lecture Series:

10/1, 7-8pm - Dan Hendrick

Join Dan Hendrick, author, historian and filmmaker, for an historic overview of Jamaica Bay. Hendrick will open with a presentation of images gathered for his 2006 book, Jamaica Bay.

10/8, 7-8pm - Mark Christiano

Learn how the geography of the Jamaica Bay has changed. Mark Christiano, Geographic Information Specialist, Gateway, will present a collection of maps, aerial photographs, and imagery demonstrating regional changes.

10/15, 7-8pm - Mark Ringenary

Hear Mark Ringenary, Water Resources Specialist & Environmental Scientist, discuss changes to Jamaica Bay' water quality and environment from the perspective of a scientist and chemist. Ringenary will also cover current threats to the bay.

10/22, 7-8pm - Hanem Abouelezz

Discover how Jamaica Bay wildlife is monitored, and how that effort has influenced their protection and preservation. Speaker Hanem Abouelezz is a Biologist and Naturalist from NPS Gateway National Recreation Area.

10/29, 7-8pm - Dan Hendrick

Attend the final presentation in this month-long series on Jamaica Bay. Author, historian and filmmaker Dan Hendrick will show excerpts from his documentary Jamaica Bay Lives and share stories about the individuals working to make the Bay a better place for all.

Other Activities

Birding, nature walks, exhibits, talks and cruises.