Eight Ways to Explore Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in Boca Raton, Florida


Established in 1951, the 145,000+ acre (one of the largest in America!) Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge preserves the remnants of the northern Everglades, which includes a cypress forest for 250+ species of birds; indoor, interactive exhibits; access to boat launches; and tons of hiking, biking, and paddling trails. Located in Boca Raton, Florida in the northernmost part of the Everglades, the 221+ square mile preserve is also home to a wide variety of reptiles and amphibians, from frogs and salamanders to alligators, crocodiles, and turtles. The Visitor Center is a great place to start exploring and make sure to leave time for outdoor trails and recreation. 

Travel Tips:

  • The grounds are open from sunrise to sunset and the Visitor Center is open from 9am-4pm. Check here for updates. 
  • There is a per-vehicle entrance fee payable at the Visitor Center or all three entrance self pay booths. More information on fees and various passes here
  • There is plenty of free parking in front of the Visitor Center and in smaller lots near the three boat launches.
  • Restrooms are located just outside the Visitor Center; a gift shop is located near the admission desk.
  • A variety of programs are offered throughout the week, including 90 minute tram tours, Wellness Walks, and Boardwalks. Check here for more information. 
  • Plan on 90 minutes to explore the Visitor Center and Boardwalk; more time for exploring the trails.
Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in Boca Raton, Florida

Eight Ways to Explore the Loxahatchee Refuge:

  1. Hop aboard the airboat simulator in the Visitor Center for a virtual tour of the refuge
  2. Listen to the nighttime “symphony” of sounds from various animals on the refuge.
  3. Learn how the Everglades are valuable to the Earth and humans from a variety of interviews from people with different perspectives.
  4. Walk the almost half mile accessible Cypress Swamp Boardwalk. The swamp, over 400 acres, is the largest in Palm beach County. Keep an eye out for a variety of birds, like woodpeckers and owls, fish, turtles, and more. Note that the depth of water varies throughout the year as the swamp is rain fed.  
  5. Bike on almost 40 miles of trails throughout the refuge, including the popular 36 mile Perimeter Trail. Bikers are welcome on all hiking trails except the Boardwalk.  
  6. Drive one mile from the Visitor Center to the Lee Road boat ramp, one of three boat ramps at the refuge. Visitors are allowed to drop water cooled boats, canoes, and kayaks in designated areas (check online and at the Visitor’s Center for specific regulations). 
  7. Count the number of reptiles, amphibians, and butterflies camouflage (or out in the open) throughout the refuge on a self guided tour. Hint: there are dozens of each!
  8. Attend a guided activity, like a tram tour or Wellness walk. Check here for the calendar and to sign up. 

Looking for more fun throughout Palm Beach County? Check out our full City Guide to Palm Beach County and dedicated posts to Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum, Palm Beach Zoo, Green Cay Nature Center, and Sandoway Discovery Center, and Butterfly World. And follow along on our adventures on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

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  1. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge is such a wonderful (and underrated) place to visit. Everyone heads to bigger name spots – the Everglades, the safari park – put this place is just as wonderful. Thanks for sharing and highlighting it!

  2. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge seems like a great place to be in contact with nature. I would love to relax in a place like this and take some nice pictures!

  3. So many great ideas! I like the sound of biking along the trails and seeing as many of the reptiles as possible. Listening to them at night sounds really cool too, was it loud?

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