John H. Chafee National Wildlife Refuge

Fish and Wildlife Service, Rhode Island.

John H. Chafee National Wildlife Refuge

This refuge is one of five national wildlife refuges in Rhode Island. Established in 1973, the John H. Chafee National Wildlife Refuge at Pettaquamscutt Cove can be elusive to many human visitors. However, it is well-known to the migratory waterfowl that rely on it, including the largest population of black ducks in Rhode Island. In fact, the 550-acre refuge was established specifically to protect the population of black ducks that winter there. The refuge’s tidal salt marshes and forests attract many types of birds, including great egrets, herons, and several species of plovers and other shorebirds. It is also one of the few places in Rhode Island that is home to the Saltmarsh sparrow.

Many visitors are able to view the periphery of the refuge as they canoe or kayak the Narrow River. Although there is no refuge trail system, visitors can gain a vantage point of the refuge from the Middle Bridge pull-out and Sprague Bridge on Route 1A. Designated fishing access points also provide visitors an opportunity for shoreline fishing. Visitors can find parking across the street on town property.

Nearby Activities


The refuge is located in the Towns of Narragansett and South Kingstown, Washington County, Rhode Island. Virtually all refuge lands are not readily accessible by road. Taking a canoe or kayak across Pettaquamscutt Cove and in the Lower Narrow River is the easiest way to experience the refuge. The kayak launch area at Sprague Bridge off of Boston Neck Road/Rt. 1A in Narragansett (along with a few other shoreline access points) is open to the public every day from sunrise until sunset. There are no other developed visitor use areas on the refuge. The kayak launch area is not accessible by wheelchair or stroller. Exceptional viewing of the refuge can be had from the Sprague Bridge in Narragansett on Boston Neck Road, or on Middlebridge in Narragansett.

Additional Information