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Jones Beach State Park
Description: Located on a 6.5-mile-long barrier island off the southwest shore of Long Island, not far from New York City, Jones Beach is visited by millions annually for its white, sandy beaches. Yet more than half of the park is composed of creek outlets, ephemeral pools, sand dunes and salt marshes where you can see several kinds of wildlife.

Jones Beach is on the Atlantic Flyway, and many species of migratory birds either come here to rest or pass through on their way to nesting or wintering grounds. Waterfowl and wading birds find refuge in its marshes; a few species of mammals live in its dunes; and several species of fish and other marine creatures follow ancient cycles, gathering offshore, on the beach or in creek estuaries at certain times of the year.

Wildlife to Watch: Some of the best wildlife watching is in the spring and fall, when viewing sites are free of summer crowds. Out beyond the surf, look for eider, oldsquaw, scoters and gannets. Many species of gulls and terns can also be seen at different times of the year. Black skimmers zoom just inches above the water, their wingtips occasionally touching the surface and their long, narrow lower bills knifing through the water after small fish. More than 30 species of shorebirds visit the beaches and tidal flats. Bitterns, herons and egrets grace the marshlands. Piping plovers, endangered in New York State, are relatively common on the beach in spring and early summer, along with killdeer and other plover species.

In May, thousands of primitive-looking horseshoe crabs crawl from the ocean to breed, a mating ritual millions of years old. Diamondback terrapins also come ashore to lay their eggs on bay beaches starting in late May. Fowler’s toads are another summer resident, although you are more likely to hear them calling during the breeding season than to see them.

In the fall, watch from the boardwalk viewing platform as hundreds of hawks, kestrels, falcons and osprey fly past during peak migration. Fall is also when thousands of monarch butterflies arrive on their way south.

Each winter, harbor seals appear in the surf or haul out on the rocks where you can watch them with a good pair of binoculars. Snowy owls are not uncommon from December through March.

Special Tips: This site has many accessible features, including the beach, visitors center and fishing.

The park is open from sunrise to sunset, year-round. There is a vehicle entrance fee. Other fees and activities vary by season; contact the park directly.

516-785-1600; 2400 Ocean Pkwy., Wantagh, NY 11793, www.nysparks.com

Ownership: NYS Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation 
Size: 2,413 acres with 6.5 Miles of ocean coastline 
Closest Town: Wantagh

RestroomsParkingFishingHikingPicnic tablesBoat LaunchVisitor CenterHandicap AccessibleLarge BoatsDrinking WaterSwimmingBicycling

Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing:

Snowy Owl - Photo by John Mattera
Please see map link below

Driving Directions:
From NY-27/Sunrise Hwy., take the Wantagh State Pkwy. south to Jones Beach. After 5.7 miles, take the first exit off the traffic circle onto Ocean Pkwy. west. Turn right, and make a sharp right into the park.

Map Link

Jones Beach State Park : Wildlife Viewing Area