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Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge

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About Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge

Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1903 near Sebastian, Florida, holds the distinction of being the inaugural National Wildlife Refuge in the United States. Encompassing over 5400 acres, centered around Pelican Island, it serves as a crucial sanctuary for diverse bird species, blending natural beauty with historical significance.

With roots dating back to the Ais people from 2000 BCE, Pelican Island gained recognition in 1903 as the nation’s first wildlife refuge through an executive order by President Theodore Roosevelt. Its wilderness status was solidified by Congressional approval in 1970.

Nature enthusiasts can explore the refuge through two 3-mile loop trails, a Wildlife Trail, and a ¾-mile Centennial walking trail, offering opportunities for birders, photographers, and outdoor enthusiasts. The refuge comes alive during fall through spring, providing a chance to witness migratory white pelicans and nesting brown pelicans. Informative signs along the trails narrate the tale of the Nation’s First Wildlife Refuge.

Pelican Island is located in Vero Beach and extends its offerings to Lagoon waters, inviting immersive experiences in kayaking, boating, and swimming.

Pelican Island safeguards nesting habitats for brown pelicans and other birds, playing a pivotal role in protecting endangered and threatened species. Over 130 bird species find refuge for feeding, nesting, and roosting.

The sanctuary is open from 7:30 until sunset.

Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge Videos


7:30 am - 6:30 pm

  • Monday

    7:30 am - 6:30 pm
  • Tuesday

    7:30 am - 6:30 pm
  • Wednesday

    7:30 am - 6:30 pm
  • Thursday

    7:30 am - 6:30 pm
  • Friday

    7:30 am - 6:30 pm
  • Saturday

    7:30 am - 6:30 pm
  • Sunday

    7:30 am - 6:30 pm
  • Local time

    June 21, 2024 2:27 am

Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge Amenities

  • Kid Friendly
  • Parking Available

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