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Plan Your Visit

Barns overlook trail 512x350

Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge provides numerous recreation opportunities to thousands of visitors every year. Whether boating, hiking, or participating in educational programs, visitors enjoy viewing the unique ecosystems and diverse wildlife. Regulation of recreation activities allow for public enjoyment of the refuge while still protecting the wildlife and habitats.


Visitor Center

The Visitor Center includes The Nature Shop, an information desk, a view of the freshwater marsh, and interpretive exhibits. It is open Wednesday through Sunday, 9:00a.m. to 4:00p.m, but closed on major holidays including Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. Call the Refuge for specific questions regarding holiday closures.

The Refuge office is open Monday through Friday, 7:30a.m. to 4:00p.m. The office is closed on all Federal holidays. Call the Refuge for specific questions regarding holidays.

Refuge Brochure

Environmental Education Center

The Environmental Education Center may be used by educational groups by appointment only. For more information, visit the "For Educators" section of this website or contact the Environmental Education Coordinator at (360) 753-9467.


The Refuge trails are open everyday for wildlife viewing and nature photography from sunrise to sunset. Please note that all pets, including dogs, are not allowed at the Refuge.  All activities on a wildlife refuge must be wildlife-dependent, so jogging, bicycling, ball sports and similar activities are, like dogs, not allowed.  

Many visitors, especially birders and boaters, have found that it is best to plan a visit to the Refuge according to the tides.  The highest concentrations of the estuarine bird species will be most visible within two hours of high tide.

Tide Charts

Bird List

Visitors must be out of the Refuge by sunset when the entrance gate is locked each evening.

Sunrise and sunset times in Olympia, WA

Prohibited Activities

Nisqually Refuge provides abundant opportunities for wildlife-dependent recreation. Hiking, wildlife observation, environmental education, wildlife photography, fishing, and hunting all allow visitors to learn more about the natural world and the importance of places rich in beauty and biological diversity.

There are a few activities that are not permitted on the Refuge because they may interfere with or detract from the management, conservation, or protection of Refuge fish and wildlife resources.

No Pets
Nisqually NWR is set aside for the protection and preservation of wildlife. Please feel free to enjoy the opportunity to view wildlife and habitats but leave your pet at home.

The Refuge is Not a Park
Sports such as jogging, bicycling, Frisbee throwing, kite flying are not permitted because they are disturbing to wildlife and to other visitors. These should be done in parks that allow these activities. Personal watercraft are limited to a 5 mph speed restriction due to wildlife and habitat disturbance and may be more appropriate in other locations.

No Camping
The Refuge is only open to the public from sunrise to sunset. There is no camping allowed on the Refuge; campfires are also not permitted.


Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is located 8 miles northeast of Olympia, Washington. 

  • From Interstate 5 southbound, take exit 114. Make a right at the traffic light, go under the freeway and make a right into the Refuge. Follow the entrance road to the two public parking lots.
  • From Interstate 5 northbound, take exit 114. Make a left at the stop sign, go under the freeway and make a right into the Refuge. Follow the entrance road to the two public parking lots.


Daily fee is $3.00 per four adults. An Interagency Annual Pass (old Golden Eagle), Senior Pass (old Golden Age), or Access Passport, Federal Duck Stamp, or an Annual Refuge Pass will admit the pass holder and 3 additional adults (over age 16).  Children 16 and under enter free.  Each of these passes is available for purchase at the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge Administration Office and Visitor Center. All proceeds from entrance fees and passes go back into Nisqually NWR programs.  Get more information regarding these passes at General Info: Entrance Fees & Passes or ask about them at the Visitor Center when you visit us.

Page Photo Credits — trail in fall, Michael Schramm, USFWS
Last Updated: Jul 10, 2015
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