Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge offers a unique chance to view one of the rarest bird species in North America. The refuge was established in 1975 to protect the endangered Mississippi sandhill crane, with less than 35 of the birds living in the wild due to the rapid destruction of wet pine savanna habitat. Thanks to the protection of more than 19,000 acres of land, coupled with intensive conservation efforts, around 120 Mississippi sandhill cranes now thrive within the park, which is part of the Gulf Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
Planning a bird watching getaway to the Magnolia State? Book an RV in Jackson County and you're perfectly placed to visit Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge. With a home on wheels, you'll also enjoy the freedom to explore other state gems like the Gulf Islands National Seashore and De Soto National Forest. Looking for more wildlife-watching opportunities? Venture further afield and you can join alligator safaris in the bayous of Louisiana or spot more than 250 species of birds in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta.
Spotting the rare Mississippi sandhill crane, also known as Grus canadensis pulla, is a top priority for most visitors to the national wildlife refuge. Stop by the visitors' center to check out interactive exhibits on the rare species, as well as the unique plants and animals found in the wet pine savanna ecosystem. Visit during the fall and spring migration for the best chance of spotting a Mississippi sandhill crane. You can also join ranger-guided safaris that take you deep into the refuge and increase the likelihood of a sighting.
A pair of well-marked trails wind through the refuge and showcase the savanna, bayou, and piney woods habitats. The three-quarter-mile C. L. Dees Nature Trail is a great option for families and offers a chance to spot carnivorous plants found within the refuge, including pitchers, sundews, and bladderworts. The one-mile Fontainebleau Nature Trail meanders through a pine forest and is often blanketed in colorful wildflowers.
Camping near Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge
As a protected reserve, there's no camping at Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge. However, you'll find fantastic options within a 30-minute drive of the park. Shepard State Park in Gautier offers 28 sites shaded by mature oaks and longleaf pines. All sites feature picnic tables, fire pits, and access to modern bathroom blocks. Launch a kayak and enjoy a scenic paddle on the Singing River or test your skills on Alligator Alley, the park's 18-hole disc golf course.
For an oceanside RV camping experience, head to Gulf Islands National Seashore. On Santa Rosa Island, Fort Pickens Campground features 137 spacious sites with electric and water hookups. You're just steps from sugar-white beaches perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and snorkeling. Dogs are welcome, so why not rent a pet-friendly RV and bring along the whole family on your Gulf Coast road trip? Also located within Gulf Islands National Seashore, Davis Bayou Campground enjoys a tranquil setting among live oaks and pines. Choose from 52 sites with electric and water hookups.
Another option is the De Soto National Forest, a one-hour drive north of the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge. The park occupies more than 5,000 acres and features over a dozen campgrounds shaded by longleaf pines. Birders will love the chance to spot red-cockaded woodpeckers, Swainson's warblers, Bachman's sparrows, and other native species.
Exploring the Area
Camping in an RV near Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge is a fantastic opportunity to explore the sun-drenched Gulf Coast. The region stretches from Florida to Texas and promises a patchwork of white sandy beaches, rolling dunes, and postcard-perfect barrier islands. The coastal city of Pascagoula is a 20-minute drive from the park and is a good place to stock up on motorhome camping supplies. You'll love soaking up the sun at Pascagoula Beach Park, visiting historic Round Island Lighthouse, and digging into Gulf Coast specialties like chargrilled oysters, po’boys, blue crab, and barbecue shrimp.
For a livelier scene, head 30 minutes west to Biloxi, an action-packed city known for its glitzy casinos. Biloxi is also a great place to rent a camper near Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge. Cross the state line into Louisiana and you'll find iconic cities like New Orleans. The Big Easy is less than a two-hour drive from the wildlife refuge and promises dimly-lit jazz bars, beautiful Creole architecture, and lashings of French charm. Mobile, Alabama is a 45-minute drive east and is another great place to rent an RV near Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge.
Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge, MS is the perfect spot to start your next road trip.
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