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The ceiling inside the visitor center was kind of cool with birds and sky displays.
Savannah National Wildlife Refuge
Closest available address
694 Beech Hill Lane Hardeeville, SC 29927
Visitor center open Mon.-Sat. 9:00am-4:00pm. Refuge is open daylight hours.
Best time to visit
Fall, Winter, Spring
Savannah National Wildlife Refuge is a 29,000 acre expanse of freshwater impoundments and bottomland hardwood habitat about 14 miles by car from Savannah, Georgia. Refuge grounds were mainly rice plantations prior to the Civil War, and many of the dikes and freshwater pools from this era still exist. The main visitor facilities are a modern visitor center with a small museum and short film, as well as a 4 mile wildlife drive and hiking trails. Alligators and turtles are frequently seen here. Ducks and songbirds are also common at different times of year.
Starting with a modest 2,352 acre bird refuge created by a presidential executive order in 1927, the refuge has grown significantly over the years through additional executive orders, lands purchased with Duck Stamps and via land mitigation acts. Savannah is the largest unit in a group of additional refuges administered under the Savannah Coastal Refuges Complex. Other units include pristine barrier islands.
Winter was a good time of time of year to visit as the weather was mild and insects were minimal. This area can get quite hot and muggy in summer. After chatting with a pleasant refuge volunteer, it was time to watch the movie and check out the museum exhibits. The movie and museum covered the same topics: refuge history, nature and management. The museum was slightly more informative. An 800 foot hiking trail behind the museum takes no time at all but correspondingly had little if any interest. It was only a few miles drive to the wildlife drive, which is the main attraction here. The wildlife drive is a one way gravel way road, so drive slowly because it's a long way back if you miss a turnoff. While the drive was quiet, it was also somewhat dusty and not especially interesting. Both the Plantation Island Trail and Raccoon Island Trail were flat and easy paths along former rice plantation dikes. Of the two, Raccoon was more enjoyable as it had more wildlife and more varied habitats. This refuge will mainly interest those into a quiet natural setting, such as birders. The trails are too easy to challenge serious hikers, and the museum was too sparse to satiate the intellectually curious.
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