Fodor's Expert Review Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Titusville Fodor's Choice

Owned by NASA but part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, this 140,000-acre refuge, which adjoins the Canaveral National Seashore, acts as a buffer around Kennedy Space Center while protecting 1,000 species of plants and 500 species of wildlife, 15 of which are considered threatened or endangered by the federal government. It's an immense area dotted by brackish estuaries and marshes, coastal dunes, hardwood hammocks, and pine forests. You can borrow field guides and binoculars at the visitor center (5 miles east of U.S. 1 in Titusville on State Road 402) to track down falcons, ospreys, eagles, turkeys, doves, cuckoos, owls, and woodpeckers, as well as loggerhead turtles, alligators, wild boar, and otters. A 20-minute video about refuge wildlife and accessibility—only 10,000 acres are developed—can help orient you. This is a wild, natural area, not a zoo or theme park. Visitors should use appropriate caution, as this is home to snakes, alligators, and stinging insects.

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Owned by NASA but part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, this 140,000-acre refuge, which adjoins the Canaveral National Seashore, acts as a buffer around Kennedy Space Center while protecting 1,000 species of plants and 500 species of wildlife, 15 of which are considered threatened or endangered by the federal government. It's an immense area dotted by brackish estuaries and marshes, coastal dunes, hardwood hammocks, and pine forests. You can borrow field guides and binoculars at the visitor center (5 miles east of U.S. 1 in Titusville on State Road 402) to track down falcons, ospreys, eagles, turkeys, doves, cuckoos, owls, and woodpeckers, as well as loggerhead turtles, alligators, wild boar, and otters. A 20-minute video about refuge wildlife and accessibility—only 10,000 acres are developed—can help orient you. This is a wild, natural area, not a zoo or theme park. Visitors should use appropriate caution, as this is home to snakes, alligators, and stinging insects.

You might take a self-guided driving tour along the 7-mile Black Point Wildlife Drive. Several roads and trails are vulnerable to hurricane damage, and may be closed if there has been a strong storm. Check the website or call 321/861–2352 for updates on closures. If you exit the north end of the refuge, look for the Manatee Observation Deck, just north of the Haulover Canal (maps are at the visitor center). They usually show up in spring and fall. There are also fishing camps, fishing boat ramps, and six hiking trails scattered throughout the area. If you do want to fish, a free downloadable permit is required. The refuge does not close when there is a rocket launch.

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Fodor's Choice Cruise Nature Preserve/Wildlife Refuge

Quick Facts

S.R. 402
Titusville, Florida  32782, USA

321-861–0667

www.fws.gov/refuge/merritt_island

Sight Details:
Rate Includes: Black Point Wildlife Dr. $10 per vehicle per day

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