- The topography of the Refuge varies from gentle rolling slopes through most of the Refuge to slopes exceeding 24% in the southern portion. Major habitat types are hardwood forest, agricultural land, wildlife/livestock grazing units, open brushland, wetlands and lakes.
A large portion of the Refuge is designated a wildlife sanctuary and remains closed to general public use. There is also a 4,050 acre wilderness area. Cooperative farming and permittee grazing are the primary management tools used to provide feeding and loafing areas for migrating and wintering waterfowl, one of the main wildlife management objectives.
Recreation - There is a wide spectrum of recreational opportunities on and around three man-made lakes on the Refuge. Present annual visitation is approximately 1,200,000 visitors. This contributes substantially to the $25,000,000 local tourism economy. Industrial activities on the Refuge range from manufacturing and storage facilities to administrative offices. In excess of $45 million is generated annually by the industrial tenants.
Climate - Illinois experiences four distinct seasons with varying weather throughout the year. Winter can be very cold. The highest humidity of the year occurs during this season averaging 70 to 75 percent. Average low temperatures in January dip to 20 degrees F with highs near 35 degrees F. Spring temperatures are mild with humidity below 70 percent. Temperatures during this season average between 32 and 50 degrees F. Summer is usually hot and humid in this Midwest state. Low temperatures remain in the low sixties with high temperatures near 90 degrees F. The highest rainfall of the year occurs during the summer months. Fall is an excellent time to visit the state with low humidity and rainfall and moderate temperatures.
Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge is located 8 miles east of Carbondale, and 6 miles west of Marion on Highway 13.