Nestled in gently rolling foothills of the Ozark Mountains, Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge is home to wildlife as unique as the bald eagle and as elusive as the bobcat. Fertile bottomlands at the confluence of the Arkansas and Canadian Rivers make this east-central Oklahoma refuge a terrific wildlife viewing destination.
Listen to the din of quacking mallards and honking geese in winter. Mallards by the thousands choose the Refuge as their seasonal home along the central flyway. They’re joined by gadwall, pintail, teal, wigeon, shoveler and wood ducks, along with the largest flocks of snow geese in Oklahoma. Bald eagles that had once all but vanished, now nest on the Refuge. In winter, you can see numerous eagles roosting in cottonwoods or swooping over the waters in search of fish or waterfowl. I’ve also photographed Raccoon, oppossum, armadillo, and lots of deer, not to mention some gorgeous sunsets.
Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge
There is no fee for this area.
Best Time to Visit:
Winter is the best time for viewing Bald Eagles which nest in the refuge, and thousands of snow geese.
Where it is:
Located on the Arkansas River in Eastern Oklahoma near Vian.
The refuge is located approximately 150 miles east of Oklahoma City, and 35 miles west of Fort Smith, Arkansas, off of Interstate 40. Take the Vian exit from I-40, follow county road 3 miles south.
Click map to enlarge
Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge
Route 1, Box 18A
Established in 1970, Sequoyah NWR is one of more than 540 refuges in the United States. The refuge name honors Sequoyah, a Native American, who invented a Cherokee alphabet consisting of syllables that allowed his tribe to preserve their traditions and history in writing.By the close of the century, outlaws found the hardwood forests and rivers ideal for their wild lifestyle. Belle Star, Frank and Jesse James, the Daltons, the Youngers and “Pretty Boy” Floyd roamed the area. HoursThe refuge is open from sunrise to sunset except for a few special hunt days. There is a gate that you can leave after closing but cannot enter after sunset.
Tips for the Photographer
You will want to bring as long as lens as you have for shooting the eagles and other birds and wildlife.
What to Photograph:
White-tailed deer, armadillos, bobcats, and opossums. Great blue herons, snowy egrets, pied-billed grebes, snowgeese, mallard and wood ducks. Diamondback watersnakes, southern leopard frogs, gray treefrog, and numerous varieties of turtles are all common on the refuge.
Early morning and late evening are the best times to see wildlife. If you visit during the middle of the day in summer you will be greatly disapointed. When photographing birds you usually are shooting into a brighter sky and will need to compensate and 1 to 2 stops of exposure to avoid the silhouette effect.Please keeping mind that there are active Bald Eagle nests and that you are not permitted within 500 feet of them.
The best means of finding wildlife is to take th 6 mile auto tour through the Sandtown Bottoms. Shoot from within the car as wildlife is used to vehicles in the refuge.
Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge Photo Gallery
More Photographic Destinations in Oklahoma:
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