San Diego NWR Complex
Pacific Southwest Region
(Photo by Phil Roullard)

San Diego NWR

A variety of habitats from coastal sage scrub and chaparral to oak woodland and freshwater marsh describe this inland refuge in San Diego’s backcountry. San Diego NWR is part of the National Wildlife Refuge System’s contribution to the Multiple Species Conservation Plan, a program designed to conserve enough open space and habitat for species survival while enabling orderly development to occur where necessary.

Classic San Diego NWR California coastal sage scrub habitat with Mount San Miguel in background (Lisa Cox/USFWS)

San Diego NWR's abundance of coastal sage and chaparral are an important addition to other inland preserves established to conserve and restore fast diminishing habitat. This inland refuge is home to such endangered birds as Least Bell's Vireo, California Gnatcatcher, rare butterflies, the Quino Checkerspot and Hermes Copper butterfly, and to the San Diego Horned Lizard. Biological surveys for other species are ongoing as new land is acquired. The approved refuge boundary for the San Diego Refuge is 44,000 acres, and 8,000 acres for the Vernal Pools Unit.

Wildlife observation and photography, hiking and guided walks are some of the activities visitors can enjoy at this refuge. Please call the refuge office at (619) 468-9245 for more information, hours and directions.

The San Diego NWR is a great place to view birds that utilize the variety of habitats found on the Refuge throughout the year. Here is the Refuge Bird Checklist to help you identify birds on your walk.

San Diego NWR Bird Checklist


Click on a photo below to view a large image
Mariposa Lily
California Gnatcatcher
Quino Checkerspot
Arroyo Toad
(Photo by Phil Roullard)

Last updated: April 20, 2011