Established in 1947, this 44,000-acre national wildlife refuge centers on Crab Orchard Lake. Its land and water contain a great diversity of flora and fauna. Major habitats include oak hickory upland forest, bottomland hardwood forest, cropland, grazing units, brushland, prairie, wetlands, and lakes. The western portion of the refuge includes a 4,050-acre congressionally designated wilderness area providing a wide range of recreational opportunities. To the east sits the wildlife sanctuary with limited public use.
Visit Crab Orchard NWR and explore the great outdoors! Reconnect with nature along various scattered hiking trails or cycle down do Wolf Creek Causeway. Fish from the bank, dock, or by boat, canoe, or kayak. Four seasonal campgrounds offer full hook-ups, water, electric, and non-electric sites. Discover your ideal picnic spot and capturing all the beauty of nature through birdwatching and photography.
- Crab Orchard Lake has 6,965 acres of bluegill, channel catfish, crappie, and largemouth/white bass.
- Devils Kitchen Lake has 810-acres of bluegill, channel catfish, largemouth bass, rainbow trout, redear sunfish, and yellow perch. This deep, clear lake is mostly surrounded by forest and has 3 boat ramps. A small portion is reserved for electric motors and paddling only; outboard motor limit is 10 horsepower.
- Little Grassy Lake has 1,000 acres of bluegill, channel catfish, largemouth bass, and redear sunfish. This deep, clear lake is surrounded by forested land, has a marina and 3 boat ramps. Outboard motor limit is 10 horsepower.
Visitors are likely to spot one of the 6 pairs of bald eagles nesting within the refuge as well as flocks of wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, and songbirds. The refuge provides significant resting areas for migratory birds utilizing the Mississippi Flyway. Wintering numbers of Canada Geese can peak at 200,000. A total of 700 plant species, 245 bird species, 33 mammal species, 63 fish species, and 44 reptile and amphibian species have been documented on the refuge.
Year-Round Events – Crab Orchard NWR offers many tours, events, and educational programs throughout the year such as the Butterfly Round-up, Bald Eagle Tours, Family Archery, Build a Bat Box, Full Moon Kayaking Tours and much more!
Passes/Stickers – To explore the refuge grounds, hiking trails, fishing ponds, boat ramps, marinas, and campgrounds, stop by the Visitor Center and purchase a daily, weekly, or annual entrance pass as well as an American the Beautiful pass. Free Admission Days are available throughout the year.
New Projects – Stop by today and see the new Visitor Center on Headquarters Road located west of Pigeon Creek Road and Route 148. Staff and volunteers welcome around 1,000,000 visitors and sightseers to the refuge annually. Additional projects coming the refuge include unique exhibits and a bike path/greenway.