Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Parker River National Wildlife Refuge
4.5
National Parks • Nature & Wildlife Areas
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About
Covering 4,662 acres of diverse upland and wetland habitats, this refuge was established to preserve the feeding, resting and nesting areas of migratory birds.
Suggested duration
2-3 hours
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4.5
349 reviews
Excellent
265
Very good
68
Average
8
Poor
2
Terrible
6

SD5
Boston, MA96 contributions
Aug 2020
My husband and I went here in hopes of getting our steps in for the day. I made the assumption there were plenty of walking trails. We joined a short line of cars to enter the park for $5. There is a lesser fee for walkers and bike riders. We didn’t have a map or any sense of where we were heading. There were signs at the entrance that stated the Sandy Point beach lot was full and there was no parking. We asked at the entry kiosk about other ways to see the refuge and were given a parking lot recommendation. We were just looking for a place to walk so the beach wasn’t a priority for us. We first stopped at the Pine Tree trail which was the recommended lot 5. It was a .3 mile walk and didn’t satisfy our walking needs. We did see the beach to gaze at here but could not go on it. That was fine with us. The refuge trail was closed which I knew in advance. The Hellcat trail was also closed as it’s under construction. This I didn’t know. I looked on the website but never got a feel for what I was going to be able to see. I expected plenty of access points for walking. We spent time in and out of the car looking for walkways and small parking lots that were full. We found a spot in a lot that wasn’t the closest lot to the beach an decided to walk down to the beach to see the Sandy Point hot spot. We came across cars lined up waiting for parking spots to open up in the very small beach lot. Some wait 45 min to 2 hours idling in their cars hoping for someone to leave. The beach spots fill up early. If you get one you can enjoy a nice private spot on the beach. We took a quick look at the beach, didn’t see anywhere else to go and headed back to our car and out of the refuge. The road the refuge is on is a single, long, winding road that ends at the beach but there is no sidewalk. It turns into a gravel road well before arriving at the beach. Cars traveling on it create a bit of a dust up making it unpleasant for walkers and those riding bikes. I would turnaround before the road turns to gravel if walking or on a bike. Plan better than I did. Bird watchers and those looking to get on the beach early will appreciate this spot in the summer.
Written August 2, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

MsSatin
Lawrence, MA47 contributions
Nov 2020
I walked the Hellcat Boardwalk Loop for the first time back in November and fell in love with the pampas grasses then caught the sunset before heading home.

There is ample parking in the lot and the whole trail is stroller and handicap accessible, with a strong, even boardwalk and plenty of benches to stop and rest. There is also an observation tower that is perfect for 360 views and photos, especially at sunset!

All in all, it's a great way to stretch your legs and enjoy the day!
Written January 25, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Maurene_K
Dover, NH10,220 contributions
Oct 2021
On several visits to Newburyport, I’ve visited the Parker River NWR and its visitor center. I really like the video. It's a must-see for first-timers.

On this visit, I would have liked to watch the video about the refuge again, but the visitor center building was closed due to COVID; however, the grounds open.

I walked and looked around for about 30 minutes. There were no signs of any birds at that time, but being outside in the fresh air in a natural area was worth the visit, and I enjoyed it.

This coming fall, I plan to revisit and also go to the main part of the refuge during migration time.

I rate my experience for this visit at 4.0.

The reason for the delay in submitting this review was due to a months-long loss of my ability to post photos with my reviews.

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Written August 30, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Diane T
Brockton, MA92 contributions
Jul 2022
We drove the entire length of the Refuge on Plum Island on one of the hottest days in July. There were plenty of birds to see- swans and cygnets, an egret, and a lone rabbit on the trail. We were hoping to catch a glimpse of the plovers from the beach (parking lot 1) but could not see them at that angle. This is a great place for birdwatchers or if you feel the need to connect to nature.
Written July 28, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

MacJack23
New York City, New York143 contributions
Aug 2021
We walked every trail, and saw millions of migrating swallows all heading south. The lay of the land is great. Beautiful raised boardwalk trails over marsh and ocean terrain. It was the second week of August, and we had a fantastic time.
Written August 14, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Ken C
4 contributions
Feb 2022
Make sure you get there early...even in February due to limited parking spaces. Also you can't ride bikes on the beach. Kind of disappointing because I would love to do that in the off season...and don't forget to leave your pet at home.
Written February 27, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

MidwesternParent
173 contributions
May 2022
We rented a car and drove here from Boston. Visiting the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge on Plum Island was a highlight of the day. It's beautiful and well worth a stop. We saw a lot of birds. It was nice to walk on the boardwalk. Excellent views for bird watching. Plus, the nearby beach was open.
Written January 18, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

FL2045
Texas156 contributions
Jul 2022
If you goal is to take a nice walk along the boardwalks that go back and forth between the beach and the marshes, then this is a lovely place. If you are looking for wildlife, then check with the locals. When we where there, there was no wildlife to speak of. Not sure if it was time of day or the time of year.
Written August 9, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Surfergirl2020
Boston, MA139 contributions
Jun 2013
Plum island is beautiful, this refuge is goregous. However, in the summer most of the refuge is off limits because of the piping plovers nests. Miles of beautiful beaches and untouched dunes are closed for these birds. They are cute and fluffy, but if you build your nest in such a stupid spot, maybe you are endangered for a reason... The federal fish and game officers are also on an extreme power trip and will pull you over for going 1 mile over the speed limit and then act like you committed a felony. Spare me. This refuge is so beautiful, it makes me so sad that most of it is closed and patrolled by punks. Dont cross the line, speed or talk and maybe you'll make it out without a ticket. Me, I'll just go to a different beach that's more laid back.
Written June 16, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Surfergirl2020
Boston, MA139 contributions
Aug 2014 • Couples
I really do love this beach, it is beautiful. However, the staff, volunteers, rangers, etc. and their pompous attitudes really ruin the experience. On our most recent visit, we asked the payment kiosk employees when the other parking lots would be open and basically got a death stare and attitude. We just asked a question. No need for an attitude. We also saw a ranger screaming at a family packing up their car to leave for having a kite. I get it, there are protected birds here that quite possibly taste like chicken, but screaming at a family? Totally unnecessary ranger power trip. The employees here really need an attitude adjustment and maybe training in how to smile and how to play nice with others.
Written September 14, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Parker River National Wildlife Refuge (Newburyport) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go

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