Plan Your Visit
Where is the Refuge?
Use the mapping tool in the pull-down menu in the header of each
webpage for Ridgefield Refuge or use this link to the same mapping
tool: Driving Directions.
When is the refuge open?
Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge Auto Tour Route and Carty
Unit Hours: Daily - 6:00 am to 9:00 pm.
The Refuge is open every day during daylight hours. Closing times
for the automated gate system are posted on the gates at the refuge
entrances. Should you be locked in behind the gate, you may call
the Ridgefield Police Department at 360-887-3556 for a non-emergency
police dispatch to your location.
Periodically, the refuge may be closed for routine maintenance,
scheduled construction projects, or inclement weather. Planned closures
will be announced on the Refuge's homepage. Website updates relating
to unanticipated weather closures cannot be guaranteed.
How much does it cost to enter the refuge?
The daily entrance fee to the Refuge is $3.00 per non-commercial
vehicle. There are many pass options available to waive the entrance
fee. Please follow this link, Entrance
Fee, to learn more about the entrance fee and pass options for
the Refuge. All revenues from entrance fees will be used to support
recreation related expenses including: brochures, signage, facilities
enhancement, trail/road maintenance, restoration associated with
wildlife-dependent recreation and public safety.
What can I do at the refuge?
River 'S' Unit
Drive the Auto Tour Route - The auto tour
route is a one-way 4.2-mile loop graveled road (the first mile
of the road is a two-way) . It is open daily to vehicles during
daylight hours. In addition to vehicles, it is open to foot
traffic between May 1 and September 30 only.
At times the auto tour route can be busy. Please be a courteous
driver and use the turnouts provided to allow traffic to flow.
Always observe the posted speed limit and all Refuge signs.
The roadway is maintained to meet the standards for regular
passenger vehicles. If you are unsure about current road conditions
and have a large or oversized vehicle, please Contact
Us for more information. Off-road or ATV driving is not
permitted on the refuge.
Walk the Seasonal Trail - The Kiwa Trail is
a 1.2-mile loop trail open May 1 through September 30. It is
the only walking trail available on this unit. The path is compacted
gravel accessible to wheelchairs and strollers. The trail passes
through an understory of Oregon ash trees and between open wetland
areas. Between May 1 and September 30 only, visitors may also
walk the auto tour route.
Hunt Waterfowl - An area for waterfowl hunting
(ducks, geese and coots) has been designated on this unit and
is open by permit only during the regular state waterfowl hunt
season. For more information, go to the Waterfowl
Hunt Program section of this website. The refuge is not
open to deer or any other type of hunting.
Fishing - On the River 'S' Unit, fishing is
allowed only in Lake River and not in any of the refuge ponds,
ditches, or sloughs. Visitors wishing to fish on this unit must
park at the entrance parking lot and restroom area next to the
visitor contact station then walk down the side of the levy
to reach the banks of Lake River. There are no fishing piers
or launch facilities for motorized or non-motorized boats located
on this unit of the refuge. Frogging is not allowed anywhere
on the refuge.
View Wildlife at an Observation Blind - An
observation blind overlooking Rest Lake is located close to
the half-way point on the auto tour route just before arriving
at the Kiwa Trail parking lot. This shelter is covered by a
stand of Oregon ash trees and has cut-out windows where spotting
scopes and cameras can be set up for close up views of wildlife.
Other Visitor Facilities - Stop by the visitor
contact station at the entrance and pick up a brochure, map
or wildlife check list. Volunteers staff the station both during
the week and on the weekends. If they are not there, pick up
information from the dispenser boxes outside.
There are two vault restrooms located at the entrance of the
unit at the visitor contact station. An additional vault restroom
is located at the observation blind. There are no drinking fountains
or picnic areas available on the Refuge.
Walk a Year-round Trail - The Carty Unit is
open daily to foot traffic only during daylight hours. It is the
location of the 2-mile Oaks to Wetlands loop trail. Although maintained,
this trail is undeveloped. Many parts of the trail are uneven,
rocky, steep, narrow, and may become slippery when wet. Sturdy
shoes should be worn and caution should be used to avoid contacting
poison oak on some parts of the trail.
Cathlapotle Plankhouse - Visit the Cathlapotle
Plankhouse. The exterior of the plankhouse can be visited any
day during daylight hours. Hours of operation are generally noon
to 4:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays from March 29th to November
5th, dependant upon volunteer availability. Educational and group
visits can be arranged at other times by contacting the Refuge
office. For additional information about special events, project
history, or plankhouse schedules, please follow this link: www.plankhouse.org.
Fishing - Fishing is allowed in the waters of
the Carty Unit consistent with State fishing regulations. There
are no piers or launch facilities for motorized or non-motorized
boats on the refuge. Frogging is not allowed anywhere on the refuge.
Visitors fishing on this unit of the Refuge are reminded not to
litter or leave fishing line or other materials behind. They are
a hazard to wildlife. Fishermen should be careful to tread lightly
on the Refuge and pack out what is brought in.
What you should know when visiting the Refuge.
The following are regulations specific to the Refuge:
No Running, Jogging or Bikes- this activity is not wildlife-dependent
and induces greater wildlife disturbance than wildlife observation
at a walking pace.
No Pets - pet walking is not a wildlife-dependent activity and
pets also induce greater wildlife disturbance. The use of retrievers
is allowed for waterfowl hunting because they facilitate the locating
and recovery of harvested birds.
No Collecting - enjoy viewing plants and animals in their natural
habitat. Please leave natural items you discover on the Refuge behind
for others to enjoy.
Seasonal Stay In Your Car Requirement - From October 1 to May 1,
visitors to the Auto Tour Route are required to stay in their car
other than at the entrance parking lot and observation blind parking
lot. If all visitors respect this rule, wildlife disturbance will
be reduced affording everyone a better wildlife viewing opportunity.
Logic and safety should dictate appropriate behaviors! Standing
on pick-up running boards, sitting in an open hatchback or trunk,
standing in the back of pick-ups, using open car window as seats,
wildlife viewing through open car doors, sitting on the roof, and
standing in the sunroof all violate the spirit of the 'stay in your
car' requirement! As a matter of safety, behaviors inappropriate for other public roads (e.g. driving with the doors open) are equally inappropriate for Refuge roads.
The sign to the left defines the boundary of the Refuge. While
it is the intent to accurately post the refuge’s boundary, much
of the boundary borders sloughs, creeks, and the Columbia River.
In select locations the boundary may be posted slightly inside the
actual property line on higher ground to avoid flooding and bank
erosion. Entering the Refuge from a boundary marked with this sign
is considered illegal trespass.
The Refuge has officially designated public use access points to
the Refuge. The designated public access points are the only
legal access points for the public. The use of any other route to
access the Refuge, even to access areas open to public use, constitutes
illegal trespass. Boating of navigable water surrounding the refuge
is common; however, accessing the refuge from these waters is not
allowed beyond the refuge boundary.
River ‘S’ Unit Access:
Public access to all the public use facilities of the River ‘S’
Unit is allowed during posted daylight hours via the entrance road
that connects to South Hillhurst Road.
Carty Unit Access:
Public access to all the public use facilities of the Carty Unit
is allowed during posted daylight hours via the entrance road that
connects to Main Avenue.
The only public access to the Ridgeport Dairy consists of the parking
area at the Refuge boundary at the terminus of Lower River Road
(a State Route). In 2005 approximately 1.25-miles of the road was
closed by the State with signage and barriers due to erosion of
the road into the Columbia River. This State closure eliminated
access bordering the Ridgeport Dairy. Any access beyond the parking
lot at the Refuge boundary occurs along sections of a State closed
road or involves trespass past the Refuge’s posted boundary.