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Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Western Washington
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Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge
Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

Overview

Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge sits in low country along the Columbia River, just down river from Portland, Oregon, and adjacent to Ridgefield, Washington. Birding is good winter and summer, but for waterfowl, visit during winter. For birders, the "River 'S' Unit" of the refuge offers a loop road that circles a lake, follows creeks, and passes through open grasslands; plus there is a dry-season trail and a year-round blind.

Link to Map.

Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

Description

Ridgefield totals of 5,150 acres of marshes, grasslands, and woodlands broken into several disconnected units. The "River 'S' Unit" is the main unit for birding, although the Carty Unit also provides birding opportunities for hikers.

Preservation of the Columbia River floodplain is the management objective of the Carty Unit, and the River 'S' Unit is managed to maximize habitat for waterfowl and other wetland wildlife. The overall reason to establish the refuge was an effort to secure winter habitat for Dusky Canada Geese and other wintering waterfowl.

Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

Sandhill cranes, shorebirds, and a variety of songbirds stop at the refuge during spring and fall migrations. Species such as mallards, great blue herons, and red-tailed hawks are residents that nest on the refuge. Black-tailed deer, coyote, raccoon, skunk, beaver, river otter, and brush rabbits are occasionally seen. Unfortunately, the refuge is also awash in non-native nutria (like muskrats).

Location

Ridgefield WNR is located in southwest Washington just north of Portland, Oregon, and only a few miles west of Interstate-5. From the interstate, take Exit 14 west into the town of Ridgefield. Go around the roundabout, down the winding canyon, and into the older part of town.

Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

For the River 'S' Unit, turn left onto South 9th Ave and drive south and up the hill. Past the big houses, turn right onto South Refuge Road and wind down the steep dirt road. Carefully cross the railroad tracks, and even more carefully cross the old wooden bridge to the Information Kiosk.

For the Carty Unit, continue into Ridgefield town. Turn right and drive north on North Main Street for about 1 mile to the parking area, which is on the left. Park here and walk into the refuge. This is the trailhead for the 2-mile "Oaks to Wetlands" loop trail.

Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

Hours

The refuge is a day-use area.

Fees

A day-use fee of $3 is charged per vehicle.

Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

Specialties

Ducks, geese, shorebirds, raptors, cranes during winter, and warblers, swallows, and vagrants during migration.

Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

For More Information

Visit the official Ridgefield NWR website.

Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

On the River 'S' Unit, visitors are required to stay inside their vehicle during the winter waterfowl season (October through April), except at the duck blind. At other times of year (May through September), birders can walk the auto tour route and on the Kiwa Trail (1.2-mile loop trail). It is annoying to stay inside, but it also offers opportunities to drive right up to some of our fine feathered friends.

Happy birding! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 091129

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