About the Refuge
Nestled near the foot of Mount Adams in Washington's Cascades Range, Conboy Lake NWR is a scenic gem within the National Wildlife Refuge System. Conboy Lake's lush seasonal marshes and vibrant forested uplands beckon to both visitors and wildlife. Located within an easy drive of Portland, Oregon, Conboy Lake is being 'discovered' by those seeking diverse scenery, idyllic recreational opportunities and a link to the history of the Northwest.
The refuge is a haven for plants and animals, supporting Washington's largest and healthiest populations of Oregon coyote-thistle, rosy owl-clover, Kellogg's rush, dwarf rush and long-bearded sego lily. A blend of oak, pine and aspen forests, wetlands, grassy prairies and streams supports a diverse and plentiful wildlife community. The rich habitat diversity sustains thriving populations of migrating waterfowl and songbirds. The rare Oregon spotted frog breeds in wetlands throughout the refuge. Elk are plentiful and frequently seen along refuge roads. And Conboy Lake supports the only breeding population of greater Sandhill cranes in Washington, around 25 pairs.
While the scenery and the plentiful, charismatic wildlife are what draw people in, visitors soon discover that Conboy Lake NWR offers hidden treats, esoteric gems that will keep them returning for years. Elk and deer may be the stars, but visitors soon learn about—and come to appreciate—Oregon spotted frogs, nesting greater Sandhill cranes and the variety of rare plants found on the refuge. A quiet place outside of hunting seasons, solitude is an easily found commodity and greatly appreciated by those coming from bustling metropolitan areas. As a national wildlife refuge, this living system will satisfy your longing for splendor and serenity, just as it did for the indigenous peoples, explorers, loggers and ranchers who were first drawn to the valley’s plentiful resources.
And history is an important part of Conboy Lake. Native Americans once depended on the area's plentiful resources; in fact, they still do, collecting plants for food and religious purposes. These same resources drew settlers to the area, arriving in the 1870s. One of the early homes, the Whitcomb-Cole Hewn Log House, still stands and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. You are invited to stroll through the house and imagine the struggles these early settlers faced.