The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is the United States Department of Interior’s only “wildlife refuge” administered by the National Park Service. All other national refuges fall under the aegis of the United States Fish & Wildlife Service. The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge covers 9,000 acres (20 square miles) of open bay, saltmarsh, mudflats, upland field and woods, two man-made brackish ponds—117-acre “East Pond” and 45-acre “West Pond” and small fresh water ponds, including Big John’s Pond. The Wildlife Refuge is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area.
The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is open dawn to dusk year-round, and the Visitor Center hours are every day from 8:30am – 5pm. The main lot is open dawn to dusk and parking is free. (If the lot is full - which is rare - visitors can park ¼ mile south in Broad Channel.) The Center has a bookstore, natural history exhibit area, restrooms, and lecture room. National Park Service Rangers offer bird walks, workshops, and other activities from the Center. Check their website.