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Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge


Water between the tall grass at Prime Hook

The Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge is a protected area located in Sussex County, Delaware, on the western shore of the Delaware Bay. Established in 1963, the refuge covers 10,144 acres and is managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. The primary purpose of the refuge is to provide a habitat for migratory birds and protect various species of wildlife and plants native to the area. We took a brief stop by on our last trip to the Delaware area before moving out west to Washington. This was a fun little place. 

Delaware is often the butt of jokes for being so small and supposedly irrelevant, but I enjoyed my time spent in Delaware!

Prime Hook Habitats:

The refuge features a diverse range of habitats that provide essential nesting, resting, and feeding grounds for a variety of wildlife species. These habitats include:

Freshwater and saltwater marshes: These wetland ecosystems support a variety of waterfowl, shorebirds, and wading birds, as well as numerous fish and invertebrate species.


Beginning of the Boardwalk Trail. 


Woodlands: The refuge's forested areas are home to diverse tree species, such as loblolly pine, sweet gum, and red maple. These wooded habitats provide nesting and foraging grounds for various bird and mammal species.

Grasslands: The refuge's grasslands support a variety of grassland birds, small mammals, and insects. These open areas provide nesting habitat for species like the Eastern meadowlark and Northern bobwhite.



Cool coastal trees at Prime Hook
Those trees are bangin'. So cool!

Sandy beaches: The refuge's beaches and dunes are important nesting sites for horseshoe crabs and shorebirds, including the threatened piping plover and red knot.

Prime Hook Wildlife:

Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge is home to a variety of wildlife species. Some of the most commonly observed include:

Migratory birds: The refuge is an important stopover site for migratory birds traveling along the Atlantic Flyway. Notable species include the American black duck, blue-winged teal, northern pintail, and various species of shorebirds.

Raptors (Birds of Prey): The refuge supports a healthy population of raptors, including bald eagles, ospreys, and various species of hawks and owls.


Marshes along the boardwalk -- Prime Hook
Marshes on the Boardwalk Trail

Mammals: Various mammal species can be found in the refuge, including white-tailed deer, red foxes, raccoons, and muskrats.

Reptiles and amphibians: The refuge's wetlands provide habitat for several species of turtles, snakes, frogs, and salamanders.

Prime Hook Recreation:

Visitors to the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge can enjoy a range of recreational activities, such as:

Birdwatching: The refuge is an excellent destination for bird enthusiasts, with a diverse array of bird species present throughout the year.

Hiking: The refuge features several hiking trails that allow visitors to explore its diverse habitats. Trails include the 0.5 mile Boardwalk Trail, Dike Trail, and Pine Grove Trail.

Wildlife photography: The refuge's varied landscapes and abundant wildlife provide ample opportunities for photography enthusiasts.


 Marshy lands of the Prime Hook Refuge

Fishing: Anglers can enjoy fishing in the refuge's freshwater impoundments and tidal marshes, though there isn't a specific fishing dock available.

Environmental education and interpretation: The refuge offers educational programs and interpretive displays to help visitors learn about its wildlife and habitats.

When visiting Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, remember to follow all posted rules and guidelines to protect the area's fragile ecosystems and ensure the safety of its wildlife.

Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge is a beautiful and peaceful destination for nature lovers, offering a chance to observe wildlife, explore diverse ecosystems, and learn about the importance of preserving these natural areas for future generations.

I unfortunately did not have a lot of time here due to... well time constraints in my planning, and because it was supposed to rain the following day (and boy did it). We walked around some areas near the visitors center, and did the Boardwalk Trail. Very nice area though. I'd love to come back and see the rest! We had a beautiful day to see what we were able to at least!

Morris Cemetery at Prime Hook
Imagine my surprise when I happen upon a cemetery in the refuge...

The Morris Cemetery at Prime Hook is a small, historic cemetery located near Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Sussex County, Delaware. It is situated in a rural area and has been associated with the Morris family, who were early settlers in the region. The cemetery dates back to the late 18th century and contains a number of old grave markers and headstones, some of which have weathered and become difficult to read.

Just off the dock at prime hook
Picture from off the dock near the visitors center on Turkle Pond road


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