Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge

Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1932. Since that time, in support of wildlife's battle for survival and the fight against constantly disappearing habitat. wildlife managers and biologists have employed a number of wildlife management techniques. Techniques now used to help wildlife, in addition to preserving the naturally occurring habitat, include:

Relocation of threatened loggerhead sea turtle eggs, laid on refuge beaches, to special enclosures to protect them from predatory raccoons and eroding beaches.

Management of artificial ponds. A few years ago prolific cattails began to cover freshwater ponds. Thus wintering wigeons, canvasbacks and ring-necked ducks were unable to find food and a place to rest. Because of wildlife management. today you will see open ponds, some covered with banana waterlillies that will entice these ducks to winter safety on the refuge.

Preserving a Rich Natural Heritage

Stretching for 22 miles along the coast of South Carolina, Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge is a rich natural resource. In the shallow bays of the refuge, the incoming tide combines the life-giving nourishment of the ocean with the nutrient-laden fresh waters of several small rivers to make one of the most productive environments on earth. Plants and animals from the land. rivers and ocean are all present at Cape Romain - and all are dependent on the delicate balance of the marshlands.

Enjoying the Refuge

If your destination is Bulls Island, take drinking water and food, and wear comfortable walking shoes. Always remember to bring your cameras and binoculars. Any visit to the refuge during warm spring, summer, and fall months requires insect repellent.

Ponds on Bulls Island host most of the wintering waterfowl, The pier at Moores Landing is used for saltwater fishing and crabbing. During periods of tide this pier is a good location to observe wading and shore birds.

The Seasons of Cape Romain

Spring is the best time of the year to visit the refuge. You have opportunities to see painted buntings, other songbirds and warblers, as their migration peaks in March and April. Shorebirds also return at this time. Alligators can be viewed as they sun along the banks of Jacks Creek and Upper Summerhouse Pond.

Summer is a hot and humid period. Temperatures sometimes reach above 100 degrees but visitors are rewarded with the possibility of seeing endangered woodstorks, brown pelicans, young wood ducks, fledgling royal terns and other young birds.

Fall temperatures begin to cool and fall colors appear in the maritime forest. Endangered peregrine falcons move through and in September ducks begin to arrive in preparation for their winter stay. In October yellow warblers and other songbirds again pass through the refuge.

Winter is the season for hunting and fishing. Channel bass runs peak in November and deer hunts occur in November and December. Birders can observe peak waterfowl numbers in late November or early December. At this same time most of the Atlantic Coast's American oyster-catcher population is on the refuge. January and February are prime times to gather clams and oysters.

Refuge Activities

Sports Fishing - Saltwater fishing and surf fishing opportunities are available year-round.

Clamming, Oystering, and Crabbing - Allowed in accordance with State regulations.

Hunting - a refuge hunting leaflet is available to inform you about the deer, rail and raccoon hunting opportunities.

Hiking - A two-mile national recreation trail is located on Bulls Island. This six-mile long, two-mile wide island has 16 miles of roads open for hiking.

Photography and Wildlife Observation: A small information station is available on Bulls Island. During a visit you may view some of the 262 bird species, 12 types of amphibians, 24 reptile species and 36 varieties of mammals that have been recorded on this refuge. Separate bird, mammal, and amphibian and reptile lists are available.


The Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. established In 1932. includes about 34.000 acres of woodland, marsh and water within Charleston County, South Carolina. An additional 30,000 acres of open water are closed to migratory waterfowl hunting by Presidential Proclamation. Bulls Island, one of the refuge's three largest islands, is the only one that is wooded. being covered with a beautiful forest of live oaks. magnolias. pines and palmettos.; This 5,000-acre island was added to the refuge in 1936; and has several shallow fresh and brackish. water ponds. By furnishing habitat for a great variety and number of birds throughout the year, the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge has become recognized as one of the most important wildlife areas on the Atlantic coast.

The bird populations on the Cape Romain Refuge vary greatly in number and species according to the season. Although the refuge fulfills its primary, purpose of benefiting waterfowl and shorebirds during migrations and through the winter season. the variety of summer resident species contributes to the year-round attractiveness of this area. The best opportunities for observing a large variety and! number of birds are during the fall, winter and spring months.

Prohibited Refuge Activities

Camping - Camping facilities are located nearby on the Francis Marion National Forest.

Fires - Prohibited due to potential fire hazards.

Weapons - Prohibited on refuge lands except during open hunting seasons and in open hunt areas.

Pets - Not allowed on refuge islands or the pier at Moores Landing.

Collection - Taking of any items, including items of antiquity is prohibited.

Littering - Please take your litter home and dispose of properly.

Sewee Visitor Center

On the night of September 21, 1989 Hurricane Hugo swept through the area destroying nearly all old-growth timber and most recreational facilities on the refuge and the adjoining Francis Marion National Forest. Presently, a visitor center is envisioned offering much-needed services to inform and promote greater public appreciation of the natural and visual riches of the Cape Romain Refuge and the Francis Marion Forest. The center will be jointly operated by both agencies. It will be located on the Francis Marion Forest on U.S. Highway 17, approximately 18 miles north of Charleston, SC. Completion date is targeted for the summer of 1996.

Refuge Access

The refuge is open sunrise to sunset, seven days a week, year-round. The only facilities accessible by automobile are the refuge office and Moores Landing. Bulls Island lies nearly three miles off the mainland and is reached by boat from Moores Landing. A private ferry service takes visitors to Bulls Island on regularly scheduled days. Visitors desiring to visit Bulls Island should contact the refuge regarding the availability of the boat trip.

Refuge Office The refuge office is located approximately 20 miles north of Charleston, SC on Highway 17. The office is open Monday through Friday (except holidays), 8:30am - 5:00pm.

For Information Contact:
Refuge Manager
Cape Romain NWR
5801 Hwy 17N
Awendaw, SC 29429

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 3 Oct 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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