Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge
Pacific Region

Recreation - Auto Tour Route

Auto Tour Route

The 4.2-mile Auto Tour Route on the River 'S' Unit is open daylight hours throughout the year. Closing times for the automated gate system are posted on the gates at the refuge entrance. The hours of the gate area also posted at: Plan Your Visit. Please allow sufficient time to safely drive the Auto Tour Route and exit the unit before the gate closes. Should you be locked in behind the gate, you may call the Ridgefield Police Department at 887-3556 or dial 911 non-emergency and a police unit will be dispatched to your location.

Periodically, the refuge may be closed for scheduled maintenance or construction projects, or because weather conditions have created hazardous conditions. Look for updates on this website or Contact Us.

Between October 1 and April 30, all visitors on the Auto Tour Route must remain in their vehicles. The large flocks of ducks, geese, and swan using the Refuge during this period become accustomed to seeing cars and will allow cars to pass by, or even stop, without taking flight. Your car becomes your personal moble observation blind. When everyone follows this rule, the result is a high quality birding opportunity for all. During this time of year, you may exit your vehicle only at the Refuge entrance pariking lot and at the observation blind parking lot. Please be a courtous drive and obey posted speed limits. Also, use turnouts to stop and observe wildlife while allowing other vehicles to safely pass. From May 1 to September 30, large concentrations of wintering waterfowl have left the region. During this period, foot traffic is allowed on the Auto Tour Route.

The Auto Tour Route is the most popular visitor destination of the Refuge. The Route transects fields, wetlands, sloughs, and forests. The Route changes considerably with the season. Raptors can be found all seasons with highest concentrations in the fall and winter. Waterfowl are present all year, however, the populations are highest from October to April. Spring brings a bounty of migrant and nesting birds to the River 'S' Unit. Turtles, ducklings, and goslings a visible through the summer months. The Auto Tour Route offers a quality wildlife observation for the first time birdwatcher to the life-listers.

Follow these links to learn more about recreation opportunities on the Refuge:

Special Events

General Recreation Map

Wildlife Observation

Waterfowl Hunting


Auto Tour Route

Plankhouse & Cultural Resources




Last updated: April 29, 2010