Please note: Most of the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge is off limit to the public due to the endangerment status of the birds and the wet pine savanna environment. However, there are a number of wildlife-oriented recreational activities to do including hiking, photography, education, and the visitor center. No Camping or picnicking allowed on the refuge.
For hiking, there is a ¾-mile nature trail adjacent to the visitor center, which winds its way through pine savanna, tidal marsh, and pine scrub. Plant life is abundant along the trail, especially in spring when carnivorous plants and orchids are in bloom. For photography, the alert visitor can also see and hear signs of wildlife, wading birds visit the bayou, and many songbirds, including the eastern bluebird and Bachman's sparrow, frequent the savannas. Harriers, osprey, and red-tailed hawks hunt over the savanna and bayous. And don't forget to look for signs of resident mammals including white-tailed deer, raccoon, and fox, and listen for the distinctive clattering bugle of the crane, the grunting of the pig frog, chorus of cricket frogs, or unmistakable bleating of the narrow-mouthed toad. In January and February, conditions permitting, the refuge offers scheduled tours to blinds overlooking crane-feeding areas. The Mississippi Sandhill Crane NWR is one of more than 500 national wildlife refuges administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Established in 1975 to safeguard the critically endangered bird and its unique disappearing habitat, the refuge consists of more than 19,000 acres in four units and is now part of the Gulf Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Located in Jackson County, the refuge is located about three miles north of Gautier.
Open Tuesday-Saturday 9am-3pm. Free.
Virtually explore the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge!