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Visitor Activities

Wetland Study

Whether it's a family fishing trip, a solo nature walk, or an annual hunting trip, Umatilla has something for everyone!

  • Automobile Touring

    Auto Touring

    Umatilla NWR offers an opportunity to see wildlife from the mobility of your car. The gates on McCormack Unit auto tour route automatically open at dawn and close at dusk. The tour route highlights refuge management activities and provides opportunities for viewing both wildlife and habitat types. Vehicle access and designated parking lots are also present on the Boardman Unit in Oregon and on the Patterson, Ridge and Whitcomb Island Units in Washington.

  • Bicycling & Horseback Riding

    Bicycling

    Not well-known activities on Umatilla NWR, bicycling and horseback riding are allowed on roads open to motor vehicles. They are not allowed on trails or roads closed to vehicles.

  • Boating

    Boating

    Boats of every shape and size go through the refuge, from heavily laden barges carrying wheat to market to pleasure boats out for an afternoon to small john boats used for waterfowl hunting, boats are an important part of the character of the refuge—on the Columbia River! Boating is allowed on most of the Columbia River portions of the refuge and backwaters. Boats are not allowed on McCormack Slough except to retrieve birds during the legal hunting season. A boat ramp is available on the Patterson Unit.

  • Education & Special Events

    Education

    The refuge tries to host at least one special event every year so that the public can learn more about this incredible place. Check our Calendar for any upcoming events. Groups should contact refuge staff for guidance in planning outdoor educational field trips.

  • Fishing

    Fishing

    While not known as a fishing destination, fishing is none-the-less popular. How could it not be with the Columbia River flowing through the heart of the refuge. Fishing for salmon, steelhead, sturgeon walleye and bass is popular on the Columbia River portion of the refuge. A boat ramp is available on the Patterson Unit. Boats are allowed on most of the Columbia River portions of the refuge and backwaters, but are not allowed on McCormack Slough, except to retrieve birds during the legal hunting season.

  • Hiking

    Hiking

    Hiking is allowed along roads open to vehicle traffic and other areas open to the public, with the exception of the farming areas; hiking is not allowed there for public safety reasons. Several areas of the refuge are closed to public use, including hiking; sorry, protection of the wildlife is our top priority.

  • Hunting

    Golden Retriever Puppy

    Hunting is an extremely popular activity on Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge. Regulated deer hunting is permitted on portions of the refuge, as is waterfowl and upland game bird hunting. The McCormack Slough Fee Hunt Area is open for waterfowl hunting three days per week—Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday—and Thanksgiving Day and New Years Day. The refuge follows Washington/Oregon State hunting regulations, but there are also special refuge provisions that apply, and hunters must know them before they step into the field. Please visit our Rules & Regulations page for more information.

    The refuge covers a variety of habitats, including rough, uneven terrain, deep waters, dense stands of vegetation, stubble fields and ditches, and hunters should examine their own abilities and limitations before using the refuge. Disabled persons should hunt with a partner and consult the refuge manager for suggestions for hunting the area safely.

    The use of dogs is not mandatory, but highly encouraged. Successful hunters usually have a dog to retrieve downed birds that otherwise might not be found. Decoys and calls should be used to bring birds into ideal shooting range.

    The Waterfowl Season Hunting Hotline, (541) 922-HUNT, is open from just before the start of the waterfowl season to the end of the season.

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  • Wildlife Observation & Photography

    Birdwatching

    Umatilla is all about seeing wildlife, and there are endless opportunities to see wildlife for those with the patience to watch, wait and explore, from the smallest songbirds to the grandest mule deer. A wildlife observation tower, photo blind, nature trail and auto tour route are available on the McCormack Unit in Oregon.

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Page Photo Credits — Credit: USFWS
Last Updated: May 23, 2014
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