Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

Fish and Wildlife Service, Maryland.

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) was established in 1933 as a waterfowl sanctuary for birds migrating along the Atlantic Flyway, and currently encompasses more than 32,000 acres.  Blackwater NWR is home to an incredible amount of plant and animal diversity in its three major habitats – forest, marsh and shallow water. The refuge contains one-third of Maryland's tidal wetlands, which makes it an ecologically important area within the state. These wetlands also provide storm protection to lower Dorchester County, including the town of Cambridge. Blackwater NWR is recognized as a "Wetland of International Importance" by the Ramsar Convention and was named a priority wetland in the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. In addition, Blackwater NWR has been designated as an Internationally Important Bird Area.

Blackwater NWR is home to the largest natural population of formerly endangered Delmarva peninsula fox squirrels and is also home to the largest breeding population of American bald eagles on the East Coast, north of Florida.

The refuge has been referred to as the "Everglades of the North," and has been called one of the "Last Great Places" by the Nature Conservancy.

Activities and Experiences

Nearby Activities


The refuge is located approximately 12 miles south of the town of Cambridge on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. From Route 50 in Cambridge take Route 16 West (Church Creek Road) until you reach the flashing light (about 5 miles), then turn left onto Egypt Road. Follow Egypt road for approximately 7 miles and it will dead end at Key Wallace Drive. Turn left for the Wildlife Drive (0.2 miles), or turn right for the visitor center (1.25 miles).

GPS ADVISORY: if you are using GPS navigation to find the refuge, you will need to enter our physical address (see above).  This will bring you to the Blackwater NWR Visitor Center.  DO NOT USE "BLACKWATER NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE"!

ALERT: A majority of Wildlife Drive and some trails will periodically be closed for deer management hunts. Please see this document for a list of closure dates.

Additional Information

Photo Gallery