Information on:

J. N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge

1 Wildlife Dr

About Us:

Jay Norwood Darling was instrumental in the effort to block the sale of a parcel of environmentally valuable land to developers on Sanibel Island. At Darling's urging, President Harry S. Truman signed an Executive Order creating the Sanibel National Wildlife Refuge in 1945.
The refuge was renamed in 1967 in honor of the pioneer conservationist. The refuge consists of over 6,400 acres of mangrove forest, submerged seagrass beds, cordgrass marshes, and West Indian hardwood hammocks. Approximately 2,800 acres of the refuge are designated by Congress as a Federal Wilderness Area.

The refuge was created to safeguard and enhance the pristine wildlife habitat of Sanibel Island, to protect endangered and threatened species, and to provide feeding, nesting, and roosting areas for migratory birds. Today, the refuge provides important habitat to over 245 species of birds.


Macy Fox

Monday, May 21, 2018
We visited on our honeymoon, and had a great visit. This time we were back again with a seven-month-old baby. The bathroom facilities are excellent. The Visitor Center was very baby friendly. There was a diaper changing station in the bathroom, and everything was very wheelchair / stroller accessible. Great place for young kids. We paid a dollar each to do a little hiking. We saw some nests with baby birds near an observation tower. We chose to only hike half a mile head back (pushing the stroller.) The hike is not very shaded, so I would only recommend going early in the morning, especially if you have kids. Very fun experience both times.

Tim Jurasevich

Friday, Feb. 9, 2018
Taking the tram was a nice way to quickly see the park. The tour guide provided a fair bit of information about the wildlife we saw, such as the migratory patterns of the birds and how the estuary is a natural fish hatchery. He was knowledgeable about the questions people asked. The tour was 90 minutes long and it went by extremely quickly. Driving or biking through the park and spending more time at each stop would be nice as well. There are a few places you can get out and walk on boardwalks or trails.

Virginia Baker

Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017
Absolutely beautiful! $5 per car provides all day access. My family and I used to come here on family vacations, so we revisited recently. It was incredible the amount of wildlife you can see in only an hour or two. There were helpful guides along the way who answered our questions. Great visitors and education center that tells the history of Ding Darling. Will be going back again soon!

Elijah Lefkowitz

Sunday, May 13, 2018
I have never been on an African safari but this experience could be described as a Florida safari. You drive your car through the refuge and can make stops to see all the wildlife in action. There are different types of stops. One is a tower to look out of and others arelook out points on the water. If you are anywhere near Lee County you should visit Ding Darling.

Clairisa Wagner

Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018
Take the 9:30 car tour with Joanne! Fantastic and knowledgeable guide. She makes four or five stops as opposed to the Tram, which only makes one stop. Tons of pretty birds. You can self-tour with a mobile app as well. There are employees scattered around the park willing to chat with you too.

J. N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge is not affiliated with AmericanTowns Media