Savannah National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1927 as a preserve and breeding ground for native birds. Today its roughly 30,000 acres are home to a variety of wildlife including birds, deer, bobcat, fox, otter, and LOTS of alligators. The refuge is an important link in the chain of wildlife refuges along the Atlantic Flyway, attracting thousands of migratory birds - over 30 species of warblers and 20 species of ducks have been recorded. The refuge also provides nesting habitat for wood ducks, purple galinules, bald eagles, anhingas, and swallow-tailed kites, among others.
Motorists are welcome year-round on the Laurel Hill Wildlife Drive. This 4-miles wildlife observation route, off of SC 170 West, meanders through a portion of the refuge's freshwater impoundment system; lands that were once rice fields during the plantation era. The earthen dikes that surround the impoundments provide over 50 miles of hiking and bicycling trails for visitors to enjoy. The Visitor Center, located off of U.S. 17, offers an 11-minute video about the refuge, a beautiful exhibit hall, and a unique nature store operated by the refuge Friends Group. The Visitor Center is open from 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM, Monday - Saturday. All other refuge lands, including the Laurel Hill Wildlife Drive, are open during daylight hours 7 days a week.