Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Virginia Beach

#4 of 16 in Wildlife in Virginia Beach
Wildlife Area · Hidden Gem · Nature / Park
Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Virginia is located in the independent city of Virginia Beach. Established in 1938 in an isolated portion of the former Princess Anne County, it is managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The administrative office is located on Sandbridge Road at Sigma between Lago Mar and Sandbridge Beach. The Visitor Contact Center is accessed via Sandpiper Road from the Sandbridge area of Virginia Beach, which is the southernmost area of development on the Atlantic Coast of Virginia.

Most of the 9,062.45-acre (36.6744 km2) fresh water refuge is on the Currituck Banks Peninsula, which borders the Atlantic Ocean on the east and the Back Bay of the Currituck Sound on the west. As part of Virginia's Outer Banks, the refuge's barrier islands feature large sand dunes, maritime forests, fresh water marshes, ponds, ocean beach, and large impoundments for wintering wildfowl. The majority of refuge marshlands are on islands contained within the waters of Back Bay. It is considered by conservationists to be an important link along the Atlantic Flyway for migratory birds such as snow geese.

The refuge adjoins Virginia's False Cape State Park. Beyond that, the northern edge of North Carolina's Outer Banks lies immediately to the south. A tram runs through the refuge, providing the only public access to False Cape State Park other than by foot, bicycle or boat. A bicycle/pedestrian trail is planned through the refuge between Sandbridge and Lago Mar.
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Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
354 reviews
  • We wanted to see the dunes and some of the wildlife on our own. We did that here. There was lots more to be done here and a great place for families with children. We spent just short of an hour...  more »
  • I came here just to do some hiking and to sightsee. I encountered very few other visitors. Maybe it was because the weather was chilly, which put a bounce in my step. I spotted a handful of...  more »
  • We brought our kids while we were vacationing in Sandbridge. I would definitely recommend going in the early morning or later in the evening. We when during the afternoon and it was HOT!! We were able to walk some trails and we stopped by their visitor center. They had some cool stuff for the kids to look at! If it had been cooler I would have tried the bike trail to NC.
  • The trails are nicely maintained. The ranger on duty was very helpful and nice. Our kids enjoyed completing the Junior Ranger program and earning a patch! There's more than meets the eye in the visitors center!

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