Posted by Mark Washburn on Monday, October 13, 2014 at 3:03:11 PM By Mark Washburn / October 13, 2014 Comment
Thousands of visitors are drawn to the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge every year. This is a place of awe and wonderment on Sanibel Island in the Gulf of Mexico. It is famous for its migratory bird populations. With its large size and biological diversity, it is home to 230 species of birds, 50 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 32 species of other types of mammals. Administered by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services, the refuge is part of the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the United States. One of the most popular attractions on Ding Darling is the 5-mile Wildlife Drive. You can see wood storks, white ibis, yellow-crowned night herons, red snowy egrets, bald eagles, crocodiles and lots of marshland. The 5200-acre refuge was established on the barrier island of Sanibel to protect the country’s largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem. Some activities include hiking trails, canoe trails, and an Education Center for visitors and activities. Canoe rentals are available at the Tarpon Bay parking lot. Wildlife Drive is open from sunrise to sunset every day except Fridays. Entrance fees: $4 per car. Tram tickets: $8 for adults; $4 for children. Membership in the Ding Darling Wildlife Society is $12 for individuals and $17 for families.
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