Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary and Visitor's Center
Upper Marlboro, MD
Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network

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Brief Description: Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary is the wintering ground for several thousand Canada geese, the largest concentration on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. The sanctuary was named after Edgar Merkle (1900-1984), an active conservationist who devoted much of his life to protecting and providing for wildlife. The geese arrive in mid-October and stay until late February or early March. About 100 geese stay year around. During the peak of the season, more than 5,000 geese may be present. Corn, millet and other crops favored by geese are grown for them, adding to the marsh and aquatic plants that flourish in the ponds along the Patuxent River, an important Chesapeake tributary.

The sanctuary also offers habitats for a variety of birds and mammals. On a visit to Merkle, one may see red fox, a groundhog, or a white-tailed deer. In the summer, ospreys nest close to the Visitor Center and the hummingbirds, finches and purple martins are abundant. In the neighboring ponds, visitors are likely to see herons and other water birds. On the trails one can see bluebirds and many different songbirds.

Location / Directions: From Annapolis: (34.5 miles) Follow Route 50 West to Route 301 South. Continue on Route 301 South to Croom Road (Route 382). Turn left on Croom Road and follow to St. Thomas Church Road. Turn left on St. Thomas Church Road (watch carefully for oncoming traffic) and continue to Fenno Road. Follow Fenno Road, and signs, to the Sanctuary.

From Baltimore: (35.5 miles) Exit Beltway (I-695) at Route 3 South to Route 301 (joins at the junction with Route 50). Continue on Route 301 South to Croom Road (Route 382). Turn left on Croom Road and follow to St. Thomas Church Road. Turn left on St. Thomas Church Road (watch carefully for oncoming traffic) and continue to Fenno Road. Follow Fenno Road, and signs, to the Sanctuary.

From Washington DC: (11.7 miles) From Beltway (I-495/95) follow to Exit 11 at Route 4 East (Pennsylvania Avenue) toward Upper Marlboro. Continue on Route 4 to Route 301 South. Continue on Route 301 South to Croom Road (Route 382). Turn left on Croom Road and follow to St. Thomas Church Road. Turn left on St. Thomas Church Road (watch carefully for oncoming traffic) and continue to Fenno Road. Follow Fenno Road, and signs, to the Sanctuary.

From Waldorf: (11 miles) Follow Route 301 North to Croom Road (Route 382). Turn right on Croom Road to St. Thomas Church Road. Turn left on St. Thomas Church Road (watch carefully for oncoming traffic) and continue to Fenno Road. Follow Fenno Road, and signs, to the Sanctuary.

Address: Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary and Visitor's Center
11704 Fenno Road
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772
Visitor Phone: (301) 888-1410
Activities: Birdwatching, hiking, biking and fishing are available at various times of the year. A self-guided driving tour travels through the sanctuary, beginning in the adjacent Patuxent River Park.

Auto Touring Biking Birding and Wildlife Viewing Fishing Hiking

Operating Hours: Winter Hours (Labor Day to Memorial Day): Sat. and Sun., 10-4

Summer Hours (Memorial Day to Labor Day): Mon. - Sun., 10-4
Fees: $2 per vehicle.
Visitor Facilities: A visitor center sits atop a rise overlooking several ponds and many acres of fields and woods sloping down to the Patuxent River. Its two-story wall of windows and circular balconies face a spectacular view. Exhibits focus primarily on the life history and management of the Canada goose and the habitat of the area. A Discovery Room for children has live snakes, frogs, turtles and other wildlife species. The lowel level includes a children's coloring table and a book nook. There is also a gift shop featuring nature items. The visitor center is open Monday and Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends (November 1-March 31); and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekends (April 1-October 31). The visitor center is closed Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Accessibility: The visitor center has ramps and an elevator.
Website: http://www.dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/southern/merkle.html

Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network - Comments or Questions: Call: 1-800-YOUR-BAY