Get Outdoors: Wapanocca National Wildlife Refuge

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Wapanocca National Wildlife Refuge provides high quality habitat for wintering waterfowl and breeding forest birds.
Wapanocca National Wildlife Refuge provides high quality habitat for wintering waterfowl and breeding forest birds.

The Arkansas Delta is fortunate to have a variety of outdoor opportunities year-round for residents and visitors. Whether it’s fishing or hiking or birdwatching, a great choice for some outdoor fun is Wapanocca National Wildlife Refuge in Turrell.

Wapanocca NWR is a great location for bird watching!
Wapanocca NWR is a great location for bird watching!

Wapanocca National Wildlife Refuge was established in January 1961 as a sanctuary for migratory waterfowl. The refuge is literally an island of forest in a sea of agriculture. Lying only four miles west of the Mississippi River, the refuge is an important stopover for waterfowl traveling the Mississippi Flyway and for neotropical songbirds as they migrate to and from Central and South America. In fact, the refuge was created for the primary purpose of extending goose migration into the southern part of the Mississippi River Valley, which was essential for safeguarding the Canada goose population of the United States.

Wapanocca National Wildlife Refuge.
Wapanocca National Wildlife Refuge.

Wapanocca Lake formed thousands of years ago when the Mississippi River changed course. The lake is surrounded by old-growth bald cypress forest that remains flooded year-round. The water elevation in the lake normally drops two feet during hot, dry summers and refills during winter rains. The refuge manages Wapanocca Lake and the surrounding bottomland hardwood forest to provide high quality habitat for wintering waterfowl and breeding forest birds. It is one of the last areas in the Arkansas Delta where large concentrations of waterfowl find a winter home and can be enjoyed by all.

The Prothonotary Warbler is one of many examples of wildlife on the refuge to see and photograph.
The Prothonotary Warbler is one of many examples of wildlife on the refuge to see and photograph.

The refuge also features an unstaffed visitors center; a seven-mile auto trail that traverses cypress swamp, water impoundments, and other bird habitats, as well as an observation pier with a view of the lake. To learn more, visit fws.gov/refuge/Wapanocca.