Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge

Alligator Tail

Flock of White BirdsCome see all the wildlife at the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge. From walking the trails and seeing armadillos, snakes, gators, and countless birds, to watching manatees and dolphins in the water, there really is a new animal to see every time you come. There’s even a seashore, if you want to hit the beach, a Visitor Center with helpful guides, and miles of wilderness to walk or drive through. This is a ‘don’t miss.’

When you first arrive at the refuge, make sure to go to the Visitor Center to peruse the (well priced) gift shop, learn about the refuge from the exhibits, and talk to the friendly and helpful park rangers. You’ll need to pay a small fee to drive around the park, but it’s not much (our annual pass is $15, though it would be more if it included the Seashore).Merritt Island Armadillo

Make sure to ask the rangers about recent wildlife sightings – usually they’ll happily show you on a map where the prime viewing locations have been of late. We’ve seen snakes, birds of all sorts, an armadillo, small mammals, wild vultures eating a dead wild pig, and, of course, gators of all shapes and sizes (from baby to pretty darn big).

There is a boat launch area which often has a number of manatee swimming around (and bottlenose dolphins leaping a little ways away); there is a trail through an ecosystem of the endangered Florida Scrub-jay (this is where we saw the armadillo rooting around the last time we walked this trail); and there is a lovely long, slow drive full of birds, small mammals, snakes, and, of course, gators (the Black Point Wildlife Drive).

As fascinating as the park is, it always seems quiet and almost empty, and everyone who comes seems completely respectful of the wildlife and the environs.

Click here to visit the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge website