Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge
Pacific Region
Deer Flat NWR
13751 Upper Embankment Rd Nampa, ID 83686
Phone: 208-467-9278
Fax: 208-467-1019

Lake Lowell Bird Tour

This loop tour of the Lake Lowell sector of the refuge suggests stops for birding. Some unusual species that have been observed at each stop are listed. The 29.5-mile tour traverses public roads, and starts and ends at the east end of the Upper Dam. Map of refuge

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There is also a driving tour of the Snake River islands sector.

Stop #1 - Boat ramp parking lot at east end of Upper Dam
View Lake Lowell from the parking lot, or rest on the benches facing the beach. Among the rare or unusual migrants possible at this location are Pacific loon, great egret, bald eagle, greater scaup, barrow's goldeneye, red-breasted merganser, Franklin's, Bonaparte's, herring and Sabine's gulls and common and black terns.

At this point set your trip indicator to zero. Turn right out of the parking lot and proceed east on Iowa Avenue. At 0.3 miles park in the second parking area on the left.

Stop #2 - Parking lot on Iowa Avenue
Look for birds in the brushy areas and trees on both sides of the road. Species which have been seen in these areas are northern saw-whet owl, varied thrush and orange-crowned warbler.

Continue east on Iowa Avenue. At 2.0 miles turn right (south) onto Middleton Road. At 2.5 miles turn right (west) onto Greenhurst Road. Travel west 1 mile to the Gotts Point gate.

Stop#3 - Gotts Point Area
The Gotts Point area can offer very good birding. Public entry beyond the gate is prohibited from October 1 through January 31. During the rest of the year you can walk or drive 0.5 miles to the end of the road. For the best birding year-round, park at the gate and walk to the refuge "patrol road," located fifty yards south of the gate. This road parallels the lake and provides a view of the lake, riparian areas and upland habitats. For some of the refuge's best birding, walk or bicycle this 4-mile road all the way to the Schaffer's Access. Along the way look, at seasonally-exposed mudflats for white-faced ibis, American golden plover (rare), black-necked stilt, American avocet, solitary sandpiper, marbled godwit, sanderling, semi-palmated sandpiper, dunlin, stilt sandpiper, short-billed dowitcher (rare) and parasitic Jaeger (rare). In the woodlands bordering the road watch for vagrants such as black swift, black-and-white and hooded warblers and blue jay.

To continue the tour, drive east on Greenhurst Road, at mile 5.5 turn right (south) on Midland Blvd. At mile 6.5 the road turns left and becomes Locust Lane. After the turn travel 0.3 miles and turn right onto Tio Lane. Take Tio Lane 0.8 mile to the end of the road and into the Schaffer's Access parking lot.

Stop #4 - Schaffer's Access
Gated road heading west out of Schaffer's Access parking lotWalk either of the gated roads that come into the parking lot. The east road accesses excellent woodland and marsh habitat. Blue jay and white-throated sparrow have been seen in this area. In winter, northern saw-whet owls can be found in the area's wood duck boxes. The west road is the termination of the patrol road mentioned in Stop #3.

Backtrack 0.5 miles north on Tio Lane and turn right (east) on Burke Lane. At mile 8.9 turn right onto Idaho Highway 45. Travel south to mile 10.1 and turn right (west) onto Lake Shore Drive.

Lake Shore Drive Parking Lots
Refuge parking lot on the south side of Lake LowellLake Shore Drive parallels the south shore of Lake Lowell for the next 12.5 miles. Along the way you will pass eight refuge parking lots, each of which provides access to shoreline and riparian habitats. Birds to look for in these areas include wintering barn owls.

Be aware that Lake Shore Drive makes a 90 degree right turn to the north at mile 18.3. At the end of Lake Shore Drive, turn right (northeast) onto Riverside Road and onto the Lower Dam.  

Stop #5 - Lower Dam
Parking is allowed on the lake side of the lower dam. Birds which have been seen from the lower dam include Pacific Loon, Clark's grebe, great and cattle egrets, greater white-fronted and Ross' geese, barrow's goldeneye, red-breasted merganser, merlin, gyrfalcon and ancient murrelet.

Continue driving across the dam. Beyond the end of the dam, continue .3 miles and turn right into the Lower Dam Recreation Area. This area is closed to public entry from October 1 to April 14.

Stop #6 - Lower Dam Recreation Area
This is one of the best birding areas on the refuge. The trees and hedge rows at the east end of the park are particularly productive. In the fall there are usually exposed mudflats in this area. Among the more unusual migrants in this area are northern goshawk, Lewis' woodpecker, least flycatcher, hermit thrush, Tennessee, Nashville, palm and Townsend's warblers, American redstart, clay-colored and white-throated sparrows and common grackles.

To return to the start of this tour, turn right out of the Lower Dam Recreation Area and travel 0.5 mile to Orchard Avenue. If you want to return to the starting point, turn right onto Orchard Avenue (and follow the directions below). If you want to return to Nampa and I-84, drive 1/2 mile further and turn right onto Highway 55.

To return to the refuge, continue on Orchard Avenue until you reach Lake Avenue. Turn right onto Lake Avenue and drive south towards the Upper Dam. Follow the road to the parking area where you began the tour.

Thanks for taking the Lake Lowell Sector Bird Tour!

If you would still like to see more of the refuge, there is also a driving tour of the Snake River islands sector.

Compiled from information provide by refuge volunteer John Gatchet (February 1997)

Last updated: October 1, 2012