Short Eared Owl
Northern Harrier

Northern Harrier

Image © Susan Ward

Please Join Us

Donate to become a member of Friends of Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge and join our Community in helping to keep the

Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge a safe and flourishing environment for wildlife. 

Please download a  2022 Membership Form here to mail in. 

Membership forms are also available at the Refuge near the restroom and inside the gazebo. 

Annual memberships are January 1st - December 31st.

Life memberships are also available.

Your membership and generous donations enable us to continue to maintain the Refuge

and the high quality wildlife observation opportunities you have come to expect at SGNWR.

Please join us by becoming a member today!

Thank you.

When You Visit

A total of 3.6 miles of trails are available and open to visitors. Two interconnected loop trails wind through the Refuge’s open grasslands with impressive views of the Shawangunk Ridge. 

A map showing our trail network may be viewed and downloaded here

Protect Your Refuge – Wildlife Comes First

The spectacular Short-eared Owls and other raptors rely on our Refuge's unique grassland habitat to rest and feed during the cold-weather months. It is critical to their conservation for these birds to receive adequate rest and forage before migrating back to their breeding grounds. Short-eared Owls are a New York State Endangered Species, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Migratory Bird of Conservation Concern in the Northeast, and a Partners in Flight North American Landbird Conservation Plan priority grassland species.

To protect the Short-eared Owls and other species that visit during the cold-weather months, a portion of the trails were closed during winter.  All trails at the Refuge are open during the warm-weather months.

Please follow these guidelines to avoid disturbance and/or harassment of wintering Short-eared Owls and other raptors at our Refuge:

• View owls and other wildlife at a safe distance from the parking lot, observation platform, blinds, gazebo, or designated Refuge trails.

• Respect Refuge trail closure signs. Do not venture off-trail into sensitive habitat in pursuit of an owl.

• Owls and harriers are ground-roosting birds and must not be disturbed. Pets are not allowed; bicycles are not permitted on the trails; all visitors on foot, cross-country skis, snowshoes, etc., must remain on designated trails.

• Avoid flushing owls or causing them to alter normal behavior. Unnecessary amounts of energy are expended by birds flushing that would otherwise be used for migrating or just surviving a cold winter's night.

• Do not attempt to bait or feed artificially. The use of electronic bird calls is prohibited everywhere in the Refuge.

• Owls, harriers, and other raptors often forage along the driveway. Human visitors walking onto the driveway are not always immediately visible. There are 15 mph speed limit signs posted. For the safety of all, do not exceed the speed limit.

• Owls have keen eyesight but it is sound that helps them locate prey that is out of sight, underneath deep snow, or below layers of vegetation. The noise level generated by human visitors must be kept down. Please avoid shouting, loud car radios, beeping car alarms, loud cell phones, etc.

• The Refuge is open daily from dawn to dusk. As you prepare to leave at day’s end, avoid shining your car headlights out into the Refuge for an excessive time. It is disruptive as the owls forage at night.

• Smoking, vaping and the use of heaters anywhere in the Refuge is prohibited, as is the use of drones.

• All plants and animals, parts thereof, and other objects of nature are protected from disturbance. Collection is prohibited.

Observation platform, blinds, gazebo, and main parking area

Our Refuge not only provides much-needed quality habitat to wintering raptors, it also provides exceptional opportunities to the public for viewing them.

• When visiting our observation platform, please note that standing in the habitat in front of, alongside, or underneath the platform and its ramp is prohibited.

• The observation blinds are equipped with flags to notify visitors about their availability. Putting the flag up means a blind is in use; flag down means it's available. If the flag is up, please do not approach. The blinds are for single visitor use only.

• Maintain a respectful distance from an occupied blind. For example, setting up tripods or spotting scopes close by a blind or directly in front of its windows not only defeats its purpose of hiding the occupant from wildlife, it also makes it impossible for the person inside the blind to see out.

• When vacating a blind, put the flag down and close and latch the windows and door.

• Our gazebo provides some protection during precipitation.  Membership forms for our “Friends of Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge” plus a bird seed donation box are located at it.   Enjoy visiting our beautiful gazebo and when you do, please consider becoming a member or dropping a monetary contribution into the box.

• When viewing wildlife from our main parking area, be mindful of those who remain seated in their vehicles, especially those in the designated handicapped parking spots.  Do not set up directly in front of them and block their view. When in doubt, ask before setting up. 

• Remember to be quiet and courteous so we can all enjoy the beautiful wildlife at our Refuge.

The Refuge Manager is responsible for balancing the needs of wildlife and public recreation.

To report issues:

Mike Horne: (973) 417-9552

Mike McMenamin: (973) 417-9556

Scott Lenhart: (845) 545-6758

Please click here for a printable version of the above guidelines.  

From its start in 1903, the National Wildlife Refuge System has owed its very existence to concerned citizens eager to protect America's natural resources.

Some of these passionate citizens have focused their engagement in conservation through refuge Friends organizations, now totaling more than 200 across the country with an estimated 40,000 members.

Friends of Shawangunk  Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization with the unique distinction of having a mission to support the only National Wildlife Refuge in the Hudson Valley  and one of the largest Grassland habitats in the Northeastern United States.

You are crucial to the collective mission of the Refuge System to conserve and protect wildlife.

Our actions today determine the legacy we leave for tomorrow.

Untitled photo

Friends of Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge


Clay Spencer

Susan Ward

John Ward

Mary Buskey

Ralph Tabor

Bethany Ganley-Waterman

James Waterman

Karen Maloy Brady