3 Wildlife Drive Free-access Days

Ding Darling tram

Refuge to offer 3 Wildlife Drive free-access days during ‘Ding’ Days’

To celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week, J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island will open admission to Wildlife Drive for free to all traffic for two days during October’s “Ding” Darling Days, and to only biking and hiking traffic on Friday, Oct. 23, 2015. (The drive normally closes to all traffic on Fridays.)

On Sunday, Oct. 18, the drive is open for free to all visitors during “Ding” Days’ kick-off Family Fun Day. In addition, Tarpon Bay Explorers (TBE), the refuge’s recreation concession, will be offering free narrated 60-minute tram tours of the drive on a first-come basis to those who sign up that day.

If you’ve ever dreamed of exploring Wildlife Drive without the usual people and traffic that its birds and other sights attract, mark Friday’s Trails Day on your calendar.

Besides hikers and bikers, special discounted tram tours are allowed in that day – the only Friday of the year public trams travel the drive.

Pedestrians and cyclists are admitted free of charge that day. Tram passengers receive a 25 percent discount Friday and all week long, Oct. 18-24: $9.75 for adults, $6 for children for the 90-minute narrated tour. Reservations are recommended at 239-472-8900 for Monday through Saturday of “Ding” Days.

Admission to Wildlife Drive is free for vehicular as well as bike and foot traffic the following day, Saturday, Oct. 24 – Conservation Art Day, when plein-air artists will be painting along the drive. Arrive early to sign up for the free two-hour Photography Tram Tour that departs at 3 p.m.

Wildlife Drive is open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. during “Ding” Darling Days. Friday, it is closed to all private motorized traffic.

For Tarpon Bay Tram Tour schedules throughout the week, please call 239-472-8900 or visit www.tarponbayexplorers.com. For a full “Ding” Darling Days schedule, visit www.dingdarlingdays.com, or call 239-472-1100.

“Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge (DDWS) sponsors “Ding” Darling Days with support from TBE, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and other private and business partners.

The following businesses and individuals support the 26th annual “Ding” Darling Days. ROSEATE SPOONBILL SPONSORS: Doc’s Ford Sanibel Rum Bar & Grille; GREAT EGRET SPONSORS: Wayne & Linda Boyd, George & Wendy’s Seafood Grille; GREAT BLUE HERON SPONSORS: 97.7 Latino & Juan Radio, Arthur Printing, Bailey’s General Store, Mike & Terry Baldwin, Bank of the Islands, Island Sun, Jensen’s on the Gulf and Marina & Cottages, Jerry’s Foods, Mitchell’s Sand Castles & Forty/Fifteen Resorts, Ocean’s Reach Condominiums, Sanibel Captiva Community Bank, Sanibel Moorings, Spotlight Graphics, Sanibel-Captiva Beach Resorts, Jim & Patty Sprankle; REDDISH EGRET SPONSORS: Sarah Ashton & Jim Metzler, Big Red Q Quickprint, Casa Ybel Resort, Sally & Rich Ennis, Florida Weekly, Glen & Phyllis Gresham, Gulf Breeze Cottages, Painting with a Twist, Ed & Lynn Ridlehoover, Sanibel-Captiva Kiwanis Club, Stewart and Sons Insurance, Inc., West Wind Inn; SNOWY EGRET SPONSORS: Barefoot Charley’s Painting Co., John Brennan, Butterfly Estates, The Cedar Chest Fine Jewelry, Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program (CHNEP), Jerry Edelman & Maryanne Daly, Grounds by Green Ways, Dave Horton, Island Therapy Center, Over Easy Café, Sallie Rich, Sanibel Art & Frame, She Sells Sea Shells, Winston & Barbara Spurgeon , Suncatchers’ Dream, Tents ‘n’ Events.

As a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, DDWS works to support J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge’s mission of conservation, wildlife and habitat protection, research, and public education through charitable donations and Refuge Nature Shop proceeds.

To support DDWS and the refuge with a tax-deductible gift, visit www.dingdarlingsociety.org or contact Birgie Miller at 239-292-0566, 239-472-1100 ext. 4, or dingdarlingsociety@gmail.com.