January 11, 2020
Our January outing will be to Black Point Wildlife Drive located in Merritt Island’s National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). It is a 7-mile one-way drive on a gravel road. It follows a dike road around several shallow marsh areas and through pine flat woods. This provides an excellent place to see waterfowl (in season), wading birds, shorebirds and raptors. Alligators, river otters, bobcats, various species of snakes, and other wildlife may be visible as well. A self-guiding brochure (available near the drive entrance) will provide information on things to look for.
There is a $10 fee (cash or check) per vehicle for a day pass. You can purchase a yearly pass for $25 at the Visitor Information Center. Duck Stamps, America the Beautiful Passes (aka the National Parks Pass), and Canaveral National Seashore passes may be substituted for the refuge pass.
Driving time on the wildlife drive is approximately 40 minutes (without stops), but will take much longer for photographers (2 hours is fairly common). The road is open from Sunrise to Sunset. Restrooms are provided at the Cruckshank Trail stop. The road loops and exits about 1.5 miles northeast of the entrance. Making a right and driving 1.5 miles gets you back to the entrance.
Travel to the Black Point Wildlife Drive from Jacksonville is about 140 miles and 2:15 depending your specific starting location.
IMPORTANT NOTE: To insure you get the right directions from your phone or GPS, use map coordinates 28.657781, -80.754485, or use the map link toward the bottom of this post. You do NOT need to go to the visitors center, the middle of the preserve, or downtown Merritt Island. All of those showed up in different queries in various apps.
This will be a self-paced exercise. For those wishing to travel with a group you can car pool or Caravan from Jax. If you want to meet up with other members on Merritt Island, please note that there is no parking at Black Point Wildlife Drive Entrance. Regardless of how you get there, you will likely encounter other JCC members as you proceed along the drive.
Please drive the road slowly and use caution when away from your vehicle. As noted above Merritt has many species including alligators and snakes. Wild boars also roam the preserve and can be a danger to humans.
The best times for wildlife activity are earlier in the morning and later in the afternoon. Arrival by 8 will likely afford the best photo opps and perhaps a second trip around the loop. Otherwise, any time before 10:30 should allow one trip before lunch. Those who prefer an afternoon trip are welcome to join us for lunch and head to Black Point afterward.
Lunch Dixie Crossroads Seafood Restaurant
Address: 1475 Garden St
Titusville, FL 32796
Phone: 321 268 5000
We have reservation for the restaurant at 1:00. In addition to being a well known seafood restautant, they also have beef, chicken and even ribs on the menu.
For those not tired from the morning, you can return to the wildlife drive for the afternoon and potentially sunset. There are also other roads (mostly gravel) that go through other parts of the reserve. Unless explicitly posted by sign, driving these roads is legal. For those familiar with Merritt NWR, Biolab Road, damaged by Irma, continues to be closed.
For those not wishing to make the drive in the morning there are several hotels within about 20 minutes of the Wildlife drive off of I-95 at Florida Highway 50. Please note that the addresses are listed as Titusville. If you query Merritt Island you will get hotels that are located much further from the wildlife refuge. If you are planning to stay overnight , and have Friday afternoon, the Viera Wetlands are located about 40 minutes south of Titusville.
UPDATES (01/09/2020): Biolab Road at Merritt Island NWR has just reopened. Viera Wetlands is open but only to foot traffic. The road has been closed to vehicles since Mid-November.
Holiday Inn Titusville – Kennedy Space Ctr
Address: 4715 Helen Hauser Blvd, Titusville, FL 32780
Hampton Inn Titusville – Kennedy Space Ctr
4760 Helen Hauser Boulevard
Titusville, Florida 32780
Maps, Forms, Etc.
Outing Host – Anita Fanic