Everything You Need to Know About Gravel Island National Wildlife Refuge

There are several islands located right off the shores of Door County, but one of the most interesting of them all is Gravel Island National Wildlife Refuge. Consisting of 4-acres and Spider Island, this peaceful and untouched land is home to several native Wisconsin birds. While the island is not open to public visitation, it serves the community by providing a place for birds to safely live, breed, and thrive. Here is everything you need to know about the island and other nearby isles that you’ll love.

In addition to Gravel Island National Wildlife Refuge, there is much to discover during your stay in Door County. Request your free copy of our Vacation Guide and you’ll instantly receive a full list of our area’s top attractions and activities including beaches, hiking trails, dining, and more.

More About Gravel Island National Wildlife Refuge

Located in Lake Michigan, the Gravel Island National Wildlife Refuge is one of the two islands that make up the Wisconsin Islands Wilderness Area (the other being Hog Island). It was established by an executive order in 1913 with the goal of preserving and protecting Wisconsin’s native birds and other fragile species of wildlife. While it may be the smallest wildlife refuge in Wisconsin, its purpose is much bigger than the land upon which it lives.

Habitat and Wildlife

Gravel Island National Wildlife Refuge supports the largest Caspian tern colony in the Great Lakes. These birds are the world’s largest terns and are characterized by their black legs and thick reddish-orange bills. The island is also home to several double-crested cormorants migratory birds. Unique geological formations and lack of human disturbances allow these birds to build their nests, feed, and live peacefully.

Other Islands That You’ll Want to See

The Gravel Island National Wildlife Refuge is just one of the many islands that you’ll find in Lake Michigan. Here are even more places located just a boat ride away from Door County that you are permitted to explore!

Green Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Consisting of Hog Island, Plum Island, Pilot Island, St. Martin Island, and Rocky Island, Green Bay National Wildlife Refuge is the 28th national wildlife area in the United States. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, visitors can enjoy a wide range of activities including wildlife observation, hunting (permit only), hiking, and viewing the lighthouse.

Rock Island State Park

Rock Island State Park is accessible after two ferry rides and provides a plethora of outdoor recreation opportunities that will keep you busy all day long! Whether you decide to explore the Pottawatomie Lighthouse or simply relax on the beach, your options for fun-in-the-sun are nearly limitless.

Chambers Island

If you’re looking for a place to escape the hustle and bustle of more touristy areas, then you won’t want to leave this quaint island off your itinerary. Chambers Island is rich in history and things to do including hiking, picnicking, and touring the lighthouse.

Discover the Wonders of Door County During Your Stay With Us

Sister Bay Fall FestivalAs one of the only adults-only hotels on the peninsula, The Ashbrooke is the perfect place for a much-needed getaway! Our highly-appointed rooms and suites are designed with your comfort in mind and boast all the amenities you’d expect from a luxury resort. Our prime location in the heart of Door County also places you just minutes from all the area’s best restaurants and attractions that you want to experience. Come and see for yourself why so many of our guests return again and again!

Book today or take a look at our specials to find out how you can save even more on your Door County escape!