Visiting national parks was popular even before folks sought them out as a pandemic-safe getaway. For less-crowded yet equally scenic options, consider one or more of New England’s 32 national wildlife refuges.
In 2020, almost 237 million people visited the National Park Service’s 423-plus sites while more than 59 million people visited the National Wildlife Refuge System’s 568 units, which encompass more than 150 million acres.
President Theodore Roosevelt established the National Wildlife Refuge System in 1903 to preserve lands and waters that are essential to fish and wildlife. Each state has at least one, and 77 percent of them are open to the public, providing access to pristine landscapes and outdoor recreation. Nature hikes, wildlife viewing, paddling, and photography are popular activities, and some refuges also allow hunting and fishing.
In addition to wildlife, these New England refuges include superb water views. Here are our top seven picks: