Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1963 as an overlay of NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center. Consisting of 140,000 acres, the Refuge provides a wide variety of habitats: coastal dunes, saltwater estuaries and marshes, freshwater impoundments, scrub, pine flatwoods, and hardwood hammocks provide habitat for more than 1,500 species of plants and animals. Many recreational opportunities are offered at the Refuge. Bird and wildlife observation, a wildlife drive, manatee observation deck, fishing and hunting opportunities, and boating and paddling are examples of available activities.
The Visitor Information Center located 4 miles east of Titusville, Florida, is a great place to start your visit.
Refuge roads, trails, and boat ramps are open daily from sunrise to sunset. However, closures can be expected for space shuttle operations.
From I-95, take Exit 220 (Titusville, State Road 406 Exit). Drive east on SR406, also known as Garden Street. Continue east on Garden Street for 4 miles and travel over the Max Brewer Causeway Bridge. The Refuge begins at the east side of the causeway.
To reach the Visitor Information Center, continue 4 miles past the Refuge entrance (remain to your right at the fork in the road) and the Visitor Center entrance sign will be on your right.
From the north, access is available from US 1 on the Kennedy Parkway (SR 3) about two miles south of the community of Oak Hill. Access is not available from the south on SR 3 because of the restricted area surrounding the Kennedy Space Center. From the south, visitors must use the Titusville entrance.
The area of the Matanzas inlet, now preserved within the park boundaries, was the scene of crucial events in Spanish colonial history. The massacre of French soldiers here in 1565 was Spain's opening move in establishing a colony in Florida. Later, the construction of Fort Matanzas in 1740-1742 was Spain's last effort to ward off British encroachments from the north.
Fort Matanzas National Monument is open every day of the year except December 25. The park is located on Hwy A1A, fourteen miles south of downtown St. Augustine, the oldest continually occupied European settlement in the continental United States and home of the Castillo de San Marcoswhich is also a unit of the National Park system.
Free Ferry Service to the fort leaves every hour at half past the hour, 9:30 am -- 4:30 pm from the dock behind the visitor center. Tours generally last 45-50 min.