Exploring the Patuxent National Wildlife Visitor Center


The Patuxent National Wildlife Visitor Center and surrounding trails has something for every nature lover in your family and is the largest science and environmental education center in the Department of the Interior. Even gamers will be mesmerized by the whooping crane exhibit which has animated cranes that mimic the moves visitors make when standing in front of the screen. Gigantic binoculars provide views of seasonal birds using the wetlands for a summer home.

Pollinator gardens surroung the Visitor Center and if you are still you will see plenty of butterflies and brightly colored birds. The wooded forests have easy to navigate trails that meander near the water and cross marshes at several points. The bird watching here will prove easy and with different birds than are hanging out in the pollinator garden. You may also see fishermen trying their luck.

If you don’t want to hike there are ranger-guided tram tours through the forest and around the wetlands that surround the Visitor Center. The tours use all-electric open-air glorified wagons that give visitors the opportunity to see wildlife. Tours take about 30 minutes and tickets are free, but first-come, first-serve.

There are two sections to the refuge, north and south, both in Laurel with entrances not far apart. The south tract is where you will find the Visitor Center and plenty of hiking appropriate for families.