Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge
2591 Whitehall Neck Road
Box 147
Smyrna, DE 19977-9764
(302) 653-6872 • 653-9345

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Other topics are available, as are wildlife movies.Bombay Hook is a beautiful and important place, for a brief stroll through the woods or serious environmental study.

A tremendous resource not only for the Mid - Atlantic states, but for the entire nation, the 15,978-acre Bombay Hook NWR is an important link in a chain of waterfowl refuges stretching from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

About three-quarters of the refuge consists of tidal salt marsh, but other acreage includes impounded fresh water pools, swamps, timbered and grassy upland, and agricultural land. The general terrain is flat and less than ten feet above sea level.

Visitors here will have the chance to see numerous species of migratory birds, though Bombay Hook is primarily a refuge for migrating and wintering ducks and geese. The marsh, with its intersecting tidal streams and rivers, provides excellent natural habitat for the birds and mammals of the area.

As with anywhere in our area, spring and fall offer the best opportunity for bird watching. Herons, egrets, and glossy ibis are among the many birds to be seen, and an occasional bald eagle will stop over during migration.

So what can people do here? Plenty. The Refuge is rich with nature trails, observation towers, and a 12-mile auto-tour route which can be enhanced with a interpretive cassette tape rental. Photo opportunities abound. The Visitor Center features displays and information, and volunteer, teacher, and group leader Workshops are offered here in spring and fall.

A non-profit group called Friends of Bombay Hook (653-9345) offers a wide range of activities throughout the year, including field trips, family workshops, and various presentations featuring leaders in various environmental fields. Call for a calendar.

School Groups, Scouts, and Community Groups can participate in a number of fine educational programs. Programs are adaptable for just about any age level, and each involves a wonderful hike and/or hands-on activities for a real outdoor education. Programs can entail a Guided Tour of the Refuge where habitat management techniques are described, or a Nature Walk covering ecological topics, wildlife and their signs, and more. Habitat Studies can include one or more of the following topics:

  • Freshwater, Brackish, Salt Marsh and Bay: students catch and identify water animals. Groups over 5th grade may conduct water quality tests.
  • Forest: students get a hands-on education about the smaller creatures living in the leaves and under logs. Flower or Tree Identification may be included.

Hours: Grounds are open daily from sunrise to sunset. The visitor center is open weekdays from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm year round. During spring and fall weekends, the visitor center is open Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Admission: $4.00 per car or motorcycle. $2.00 per bike or hiker. Bus with up to 20 passengers $20.00, more than 20 passengers $30.00. Seniors can obtain a lifetime pass for $10.00. May be small fee for some family workshops, but most are FREE. All Group Programs FREE. Call to confirm admission.

Group Reservations: 8 weeksin advance. Most family activities should be reserved a week or two ahead.

Lunch: Picnic areas available.

Handicapped Access: Visitor Center, 1 trail, and 1 dock accessible.

Directions: I-95 South to Rt. 202 South to Rt. 13 South toward Dover. About ½ mile after passing Rt. 6 in Smyrna, turn left onto Road 12. 5 miles to Rt. 9 South. Go ¼ mile, turn left onto Road 85 to Refuge. About 60 - 90 minutes from Philadelphia.

Copyright © 1996-2014 by Patrick Tadeushuk. All Rights Reserved.