Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge - Sanibel, Florida

When visiting Sanibel Island, make sure to stop by the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge.  Here you will find a visitor center with displays about the flora and fauna of the island plus information about the history of this refuge.  Learn about who J.N. "Ding" Darling was and what he did to protect the wildlife.   The information counter can give you tips on exploring the refuge, copies of guides and brochures, coloring booklets for the kids and more!  There is a geocache trail with questions you answer to earn a prize (and they will loan you a GPS with instructions)!   The gift shop has a wide assortment and all proceeds are used at the refuge.  The wildlife center is free to explore and a great place to start your visit of this refuge.

  There is a wildlife drive which was fun and informative.  It is a one-way, 4 mile drive which has an admission fee of $5 per car.  You can also bike the loop for $1 per person (kids are free).  Tarpon Bay Explorers rent bikes, kayaks, canoes and offer guided tours if you don't want to do the driving.  Their information and ticket booth is in the center of the parking lot by the visitor center.   There is one rest area on the drive and no vendors - so bring your own snacks and drinks if you plan on spending some time exploring.   If you have a smart phone there are QR codes along the road to scan and you can listen to short explanations about the area and wildlife.   There are places to stop and fish (if you have the equipment and license) which seemed to popular when we were there.

The Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge is a great place to try and spot many of the different species of birds that are found on Sanibel Island.