The action-packed festival offers an up-close exploration of four Florida Keys national wildlife refuges, spotlighting species including the miniature Key deer found only in the Lower Keys. Most of the family-friendly outdoor adventures and experiences are offered free of charge.
Outdoor Fest is presented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges Complex and the Florida Keys Wildlife Society. Activities are scheduled in the island chain’s National Key Deer Refuge, Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge and Key West National Wildlife Refuge.
Events March 10-13 provide rare access to Key Largo’s remote Crocodile Lake refuge, with headquarters at 10750 County Road 905 in Key Largo. The refuge typically is closed to the public because of its many endangered inhabitants.
Highlights include March 10’s Outdoor Wildlife Fair for kids and adults, bird and nature walks, kayak tours into the habitat of the American crocodile, nighttime wildlife and stargazing sessions, guided explorations of North Key Largo's Nike Missile Site and an evening insect adventure with “Moth Man” David Fine.
The Lower Keys are the site of the festival’s March 14-17 events. Among them are an open house and photography contest exhibition at the new National Key Deer Refuge Nature Center, 30587 Overseas Highway on Big Pine Key.
Festival attractions for nature lovers include reptile and birding walks, insect and butterfly encounter sessions, photography and stargazing adventures, a moth experience, nature sketching and origami, and “The Key Deer Chronicles” trek offering insights into the history and habits of the tiny deer.
The Lower Keys Wildlife Fair is set for Saturday, March 17, at the new nature center. At 8 a.m. Saturday, runners and walkers can compete in the Run With Deer 5k that begins and ends at the center.
Outdoor Fest promotes open-air activities and an appreciation of the Florida Keys’ wildlife refuges and their inhabitants, while encouraging responsible use and protection of the Keys’ natural environment.
Event information, schedule and registration: floridakeyswildlifesociety.org/outdoor-fest
Lower Keys visitor information: fla-keys.com/lowerkeys or 1-800-872-3722
Key Largo visitor information: fla-keys.com/keylargo or 800-822-1088
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