The Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge is located in north Key Largo along the lesser traveled route to the Keys on Card Sound Road. This 6,686 acre land refuge (plus 650 acres of open water) opened in 1980 under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.
Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge was supposed to be a residential housing development; however, it became a very important nesting area for the remaining 200 American Crocodiles that had been put on the Endangered Species list in 1975. Numbering some 1,400 strong in 2007, the government ‘down listed’ the American Crocodile from Endangered to Threatened. In addition to being one of only three breeding populations in America, the refuge is home to many different types of habitats including the tropical hardwood hammocks, mangrove forests and a salt marsh. The American crocodiles, once ranging in great numbers, had been hunted for exporting of its hide and skin. Oh yeah, the capturing and hunting of the crocodile is still forbidden.
This sign for Crocodile Lake can be found on Card Sound Road 11.5 miles heading east towards Key Largo. The beginning of Card Sound Road is at Mile Marker 126.7 on US-1 south. Use your car’s odometer since the mile marker signage on this portion of Card Sound Road is terrible at best and totally non-existent in other places! Oh yeah, SORRY to say that this is NOT a public park, it’s a wildlife refuge closed to the public but can be seen by pulling over at any of a number of bridges and clearings along its 13 mile width.