Patuxent National Wildlife Visitor Center

Patuxent Wildlife Refuge Center

Field Trip:

National Wildlife Visitor Center

Location: 10901 Scarlet Tanager Loop
Laurel, MD 20708-4027
Phone: 301 497-5760
Hours: 9:00am – 4:30pm, Daily EXCEPT for Thursdays
Closed: All Federal holidays
Cost: Free for everyone
Parking: Free on-site parking
Grades: PreK – 12th
Subject: Environmental, Biology, Nature

  • Automated main entrance
  • Accessible routes throughout exhibits
  • Ramps
  • Gender neutral bathrooms
  • Closed captioning controls for exhibits

County location

Museum Resources to Help Make the Most of Your Trip

NO Free Lesson Plans yes Docent Tours
NO Online Activities yes Homeschool Programs
yes Classes/Workshops yes Scout Badge Programs

About the National Wildlife Visitor Center:

As the nation’s only national wildlife refuge established to support wildlife research, Patuxent Wildlife Visitor Center offers a plethora of field trip opportunities for all ages.

Patuxent Wildlife Refuge is made up of the:

  • North Tract at 230 Bald Eagle Drive in Laurel
  • South Tract at 10901 Scarlet Tanager Loop in Laurel

The North Tract houses a Visitor Contact Station that offers an abundance of free public programs for students during the weekdays and weekends. You can also find 20 miles of roads and trails for hiking and biking. Check the website for the North Tract’s different operating hours.

The South Tract features 5 miles of hiking trails, as well as the state-of-the-art Visitor Center. The Visitor Center has 5 life-scale habitat areas where you can wander through and discover what it’s like to be an environmental field researcher. You’ll also find interactive exhibits about endangered species and be able to use spotting scopes, binoculars, and radio tracking equipment in the refuge’s viewing pod.

Nature Calls, a permanent touch screen exhibit in the Visitor Center, lets students explore pictures, sound recordings, and migration and habitat data for North and South American birds continents and connects that information to birds’ local arrival and departure dates on the Refuge.

Mimicking Whooper blends science with virtual reality gaming software to introduce visitors to the interactive world of whooping crane behavior.

Educators can schedule a number of free indoor and outdoor hands-on, 45-minute environmental classes. Classes range from Animal Skull Detective, an animal identification activity that uses real bones; to Pond Ecology Hike, where students explore the underwater life of invertebrate.


Check out the Forest Discovery Tram Tour, which takes you to areas of the refuge closed to the public where you can see blue herons, egrets, hawks, and even an otter lodge.


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